The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 15, 2013

Tree house must be razed in Selinsgrove

By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item

— SELINSGROVE - John “J.C.” Carlson was preparing to finish building a tree house for his daughter, Samantha, last Saturday when he received a notice from the borough zoning office informing him the structure is illegal.

“I grew up in a time when you didn’t need a zoning permit to have a tree house. This is just really frustrating,” Carlson said Tuesday of the borough ordinance that limits the size and location of accessory structures.

He began building the eight-foot, by six-foot wood structure on a tree stump in the front yard of his 701 W. Spruce St. home a few weeks ago for his daughter’s 11th birthday.

Carlson didn’t give zoning regulations a second thought when he began construction.

“A tree house is a tree house,” he said. “What possible harm can it do to build one for an 11-year-old.”

Carlson’s tree house violates the zoning ordinance because it is located on his front lawn on a lot that doesn’t accommodate its large size, said deputy zoning officer Janet Powers.

“I feel for the guy, but when you live in the borough you have to abide by borough laws,” council president Brian Farrell said.

Neighbor Susan Tychinski said she understands the borough’s position, but said the tree house has been highly anticipated by area children, including her own daughter.

“It’s just mean,” said Sarah when she learned the borough law will require Carlson to demolish the structure.

A retired military officer, Carlson said he won’t appeal the decision but admits he gets emotional when he thinks about dashing his daughter’s dream of having her very own tree house.

“I told her I wasn’t allowed to grant her wish,” he said of how he broke the news to her.

Carlson said he’ll begin removing the structure this weekend. “I don’t have the heart to take it down right now,” he said.