The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 16, 2013

Dad's tree house project garners community support in Selinsgrove

By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item

— SELINSGROVE — There’s overwhelming support for a Selinsgrove father who must tear down his daughter’s  partially built tree house because it violates the borough zoning code.

John “J.C.” Carlson, of 701 W. Spruce St., is grateful for the support he’s received on Facebook from The Daily Item readers who expressed outrage that the borough’s zoning ordinance forbids him from building the eight-foot, by six-foot tree house atop a tree stump on his front yard.

“Common sense and the law seem to get further apart every day,” commented one of more than 20 readers.

“Government overkill,” responded another.

Borough Council member Erik Viker, a Libertarian, even entered the discussion.

“All zoning laws need to be systematically reformed to make sure they are not needlessly infringing on property owners’ right to do whatever they want to do with their property, provided nobody else’s rights are being violated. ‘Because it’s a rule’ is a cowardly way to govern,” he said.

Carlson abruptly stopped construction of the tree house he was building for his 11-year-old daughter, Samantha, last Saturday when he received a notice in the mail from the borough zoning office informing him of the ordinance that bars accessory structures from being built on front lawns.

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 it.

Carlson can’t relocate the tree house to another part of his corner lot property across from the Selinsgrove High School because he lacks the space required under the law.

“Maybe its my military background, but I won’t appeal the decision. I just don’t think it’s possible,” Carlson said.

Later, he went on Facebook and encouraged supporters to call the borough zoning board.