HOLMES BEACH, Fla. -- Richard Hazen and Lynn Tran must make major changes to their $20,000 tree house on Holmes Beach.
They built it on their resort and code enforcement wanted it torn down after it was built without a permit. The resort is called Angelino's Sea Lodge and it's located off 29th Street in Holmes Beach.
After nearly nine hours of hashing it out at Holmes Beach City Hall over the 450 square foot, two-story tree house, the Code Enforcement Board made an unanimous decision about its fate.
"We're a little bit disappointed," Tran said of their decision.
The board says they've found the owners to be in violation of the building permit requirements. They're ordering the tree house owners to do three things.
They must pay the city all fines and penalties associated with building the tree house without a permit. They must also get more than 30 code violations fixed. It's something the homeowners find impossible.
"How do you comply to all that when it's already built?" asked Tran.
But if they don't do it, the board said they must get a demolition permit to tear down the tree house. The board also wants the couple to pay the city for more than $4,200 worth of work city staff members have put in on this tree house controversy.
But Richard Hazen told the Code Enforcement Board they tried to do the right thing and tried to apply for a permit, but a previous building official said they didn't need one.
"He said there was nothing in the books. 'Build it safe so nobody falls out of it because you will be responsible' and I was off," Hazen explained.
David Levin, the couple's attorney, said his clients were simply doing what they were told.
"The Hazens' relied upon information from people who ought to know best, and what happened is the city refused to correct that mistake and put the burden of that mistake on the shoulders of innocent people," said Levin.