A Toronto, Canada, father built a $30,000 treehouse in order to give his kids a place to play, but one phone call quickly ruined the whole thing.
John Alpeza built the treehouse to look like a boat, complete with swing ropes, a captain’s wheel, a hammock, retractable windows, an eating area and more than enough space for his kids and their friends.
“It's nice to give the kids their own space, let them make their own little world. Imagination is so important. They can use that to play, instead of video games again,” he told CBC. “They have a great time."
At the time of construction, Alpeza said, he did not have a building permit. He later filed paperwork with the city, but was rejected by three different departments. When neighbor Kate Lawson complained to the city about the size of the treehouse, they demanded that he take it down.
“I feel that it's overly large, is what I think. That's why I brought it to the city's attention,” she said. Lawson said she agrees with the city’s order for Alpeza to take the treehouse down.
“I think that's what should happen. Why does the city have bylaws if people can build whatever they want? They shouldn't be able to do that,” she said.
Alpeza was told he has one week to take down the treehouse or face charges.
“For them just to make this decision, I wonder what would make people do this? What kind of evil turns good people into making these kinds of decisions?” he said. “They want to destroy this now."
The father said he found out about the order to remove the treehouse after the city called and left him a voicemail. He said he was “shocked and in disbelief” that he got the message.
“All of a sudden, when it's really, really nice, it's a problem. I don't understand why somebody would complain a year later after I try to make this thing really something special, not just a box with a plywood roof,” he said. The treehouse was an ongoing project that took three years to build.
Alpeza’s fight to keep the treehouse is not about the city or his neighbors, he said. It’s about his children.
“The kids remind me a lot of times that I'm a great dad. They know that this is for them,” he said.
A Park Ridge, Illinois, family were facing a similar situation after they built a treehouse for their children.
The couple, Joseph and Margaret Solomon, were initially approved by their city’s zoning coordinator for the project but were later told that it was not allowed. They told the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate that they planned to fight the city’s demand for them to remove the structure.