And down comes the tree house
November 6, 2009
The owner of a tree house in Park Meadows on Monday took the structure down, one day after a City Hall deadline to do so, an unceremonious ending to a long-simmering dispute that pitted the owner against some neighbors who were dismayed with the structure.
Kevin Damon had the tree house set on his lawn close to the tree where it had been placed when it was built. He hired a crane operator to remove the structure. The tree house remained in a highly visible spot on the property, 3028 Oak Rim Lane.
He said the family held a "going-away party" for the tree house on Sunday. More than 50 people attended, mostly from the neighborhood, Damon said, describing the event as "great."
He had faced a $25 fine each day the tree house remained standing once Park City began action against him.
City Hall ordered the tree house removed more than a year after Damon and the neighbors started to tangle, with the dispute quickly making its way to City Hall. Some of the neighbors were worried that the tree house was an eyesore and was bringing down property values.
Officials moved against Damon, claiming that it was built too close to the property line. City Hall rules do not allow most structures within 20 feet of a property line. The tree house was approximately 15 feet from the front-yard property line.
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The city’s Planning Commission ruled against Damon, prompting him to appeal to a panel known as the Board of Adjustment. That group could have granted an exception to the rules, but members voted against the tree house.
The Damon family talked about the tree house’s future before it was taken down, and Damon said he is considering options that would somehow keep the structure, or the wood used to build the tree house, on the property. He said the family is surveying the property for another location.
Damon said there are approximately 30 trees on his land that might support a tree house like the one that was taken down.
"It will probably become parts for the new one," Damon said.
He said there is also a chance the tree house will be put back up in another tree that is not as close to the property line.
Damon said his 12-year-old daughter, his 11-year-old son and his 9-year-old son, as well as Damon’s wife, told him they want some sort of tree house-like structure as a playhouse, prompting him to look for another location on the property. The family built the 50-square-foot tree house in mid-2008.
"The kids want to be under a tree," he said.
In a letter to Damon after the Board of Adjustment decision, City Hall indicated that allowing the tree house to remain was "not in the best interest of present and future neighbors and is not safe." The letter also said the tree house "may diminish the surrounding property values and neighborhood aesthetics."
The dispute about the tree house was closely watched by people in the neighborhood and elsewhere in Park City, with the talks stirring passions about family life in the city, property values, City Hall’s zoning rules and the look of a neighborhood.
City Hall, meanwhile, received a series of correspondences from supporters and critics of the tree house. A questionnaire was also circulated in the neighborhood to gauge opinions about whether the tree house should be considered a toy for kids or a problem in the neighborhood.