Going back to our Holmes Beach tree house history, more than one City Officials said there are no regulations, supporting what Building Official Shaffer informed Richard in April of 2011. No codes, no permit is needed. Mr. Shaffer did not see the need to ask Richard questions about the type of tree house. He did not provide Richard with permit application or request for drawings. If he had asked, Richard would not know without consulting with his wife and the tree house would probably remain a dream.
Richard remembered he went to city hall, signed into some log before he met with Mr. Shaffer. He recalled that there were other officials present when he asked for what he needed to do to build a tree house at his beach place. He also learned that there is another tree house with no permit on the island.
On November 23, 2011, after we saw the article about the anonymous complaint in the local Islander newspaper. Richard went back to city hall to talk with Mr. Shaffer and other officials.
A few days later, on November 28, 2011… I was at work away from the island… Richard called in panic “Bay News 9 is here. What do I do? ”… Both Richard and Mr. Shaffer were on TV, Bay News 9 that day “Officials Say Two-level Tree House May Not Be Legal.” A day later, Richard, Building Supervisor Joe Duennes and the tree house permit issue were back on TV, ABC 7-MySunCoast Florida, “Tree House Uproar.”
But at the hearing in July of 2013, 2 years later, Mr. Shaffer said he didn’t meet Richard. He only remembered that he spoke with Richard over the phone. Well, if you meet with a lot of people over the years, it is hard to remember them all. But for Richard, it is a unique and memorable time for him.
My husband Richard is not a professional builder. He loves plants, trees and is very proud of his beach place and beach garden. The tree house was a fun project for him. All we had in mind at that time was an easy and simple structure to construct. By July 2011, two months later, with the help of carpenters and handymen, Richard erected the two decks with two support pilings.
The Sun, our local island newspaper, published the viewing deck in the tree as the “Swiss Family Robinson” tree house. We live on a small island. Holmes Beach is not more than 4 miles long and a mile wide, so words passed along quickly, especially if you build something like a Swiss Family Robinson tree house. More than one City Officials were aware of the tree house building without a permit at that time. But it is not until November 2011 that someone called the City to complain. A few weeks prior to the complaint, a local reporter from the Islander came and asked questions about the permit.