2. Did the District Court agree to the change in existing law by the Circuit Court? The Circuit Court Judge denied to grandfather the treehouse on the basis of “unreasonableness” versus the established “act in good faith” test of the well established legal doctrine of equitable estoppel. This legal principle bars a party from asserting a legal action that is contrary or inconsistent with his or her prior conduct.
We went and asked for permitting but were told “no permit is needed” in 2011. The fact that the city objected to the state permit and said we need a city permit two years later in 2013; the fact that the city officials admitted in their testimonies that some structure do not need permit; the fact that state law exempts some structures from permitting requirements; the fact that the city said the official gave us wrong advice and he has since been reprimanded tell you all you need to know.
We listened to our city officials and did our part in good faith. How would a homeowner know to look into a land development code book for building codes if he/she is not developing land? Is it reasonable to ask unlicensed homeowner to question and challenge the city building official interpretation of codes?
3. Can hearsay alone sufficient to find guilt? Take heed people. It could be you facing code enforcement. Thousands of citizens are prosecuted based on hearsay alone due to some inconsistencies and gaps in laws. All that is needed is for someone to cite some provisions buried in thousands of pages of codes, even though the codes do not apply in your particular situation.
All that is required to convict you is a piece of paper marked up with no date, no signature and photos taken of your property without your knowledge and consent. Believe this is true, it happened to us. They cited us with numerous violations, without a proper onsite inspection, measurement and evidence. That’s not to mention, the numerous false allegations that we had to defend along the way and never get to court. Gosh, we even got cited for good deed like manually raking the beach in front of us to remove cigarettes butts, bottles, broken glasses and trash for all to enjoy.
We have high hope that there will be justice and the treehouse will be safe from demolition, but with the recent denial by the DCA, that possibility seems out of reach for the moment. The court denial is equivalent to a near death sentence for our beautiful treehouse, loss of property rights and blessing to burdensome code enforcement practices. We’d like to believe that this is not the end with justice… And yes, there is still an open possibility for a referendum or petition to let the public decide. Beware who and what you want to prevail as the laws apply to you all as well.