Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Virginia man faces zoning board over tree house

If there is anything that shows the absurdity of zoning laws, when carried as far as they are, consider the case of Fairfax County VA resident (in the Falls Church area) Mark Grapin, who now faces the zoning board after an “anonymous” complaint about a tree house on his property, built manually for his sons when he came back from Iraq.  The tree house is in the front yard on Marc Drive, near a corner (not too far from Falls Church High School) but it's hard to see how it could create any kind of problem at all.
Here's the story on station WJLA, ABC affiliate in Washington DC.

This "toy building"  non-commercial and would be a very minor fixture on a property in the amount of space taken. I’ve never heard of zoning fights over tree-houses before.   Would a model railroad outdoors on a property (with trains that run) create a problem?  Maybe some kinds of Christmas or Halloween decorations would be banned, too.

Where zoning fights could start to really matter is in cases of home-based businesses, which generally don’t cause controversy unless they result in additional construction, traffic, or parking.   A few years ago there was controversy in Arlington as to whether additional real estate tax could be assessed on “commercial use” of residences.

Back in the 1950s, we set up "softball fields" in large backyards, and I even built a small brick "building" near the woodshed in the corner of the back yard once as a boy -- it impressed the babysitter.  Would these be "zoning violations" today? 

Update: Dec. 29

I revisited the site and the tree house is still up, with Christmas decorations.  Good show!

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