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HB officials ponder tree hut construction

By Kathy Prucnell Islander Reporter

A new tree hut at Angelinos Sea Lodge, 103 29th St., Holmes Beach, prompts city officials to look for state permitting direction. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

Heads were shaking at Holmes Beach City Hall last week over reports of a nearly completed Robinson Crusoe-style tree house on the south part of Holmes Beach near Avenue E.

Bob Shaffer, city building inspector, explained that Richard Hazen, co-owner of Angelinos Sea Lodge, contacted him last spring, and asked whether the city had any permitting regulations for a tree house. Shaffer advised of no such regulations, but stated Nov. 17 it “was not supposed to be there to the extent he built this thing.”

“I didn’t expect this to happen,” said Lynn Hazen of the now developing controversy around the hut. “It was just built for the private use of guests and my own use.” The lodge includes four vacation rentals, and Lynn Hazen expects it to be used as a private place to read, write, relax and dine.

The idea of the tree hut came from her research into the Tahitian and Swiss Family Robinson tree-house concepts, she explained. A builder then assisted her with the project, which, she noted, is 95 percent done.

No plans or drawings were presented to the city of Holmes Beach.

Lynn Hazen recounted her research into the possible need for a permit: Her husband had contacted the city and was told “there are no written rules regarding tree houses.” She said they also spoke to Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino, as well as other officials, trying to make sure they got whatever permit they needed.

Last week, after an anonymous call to the city of Holmes Beach, David Forbes, city code enforcement officer, contacted Steve West of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems. The local bureau in Sarasota regulates construction on the beach.

Whether permitting will be required for the tree hut will depend on West’s recommendation, according to Forbes and Shaffer.

West said Nov. 18 he had received the city’s messages, and would likely be out this week for a look. “If it is made of wood, glass and is two stories, it probably should’ve been regulated.”

According to Forbes and Shaffer, proper zoning and building permits are required for “accessory structures,” which the tree hut may be.

The city concerns over the construction relate to the building’s stability, safety and ability to withstand the hurricane-force winds of the coastal area, and West added another — possible damage to dune vegetation.

4 Responses to HB officials ponder tree hut construction

  1. Nick says:

    Once again, a citizen pushes the envelope way too far. In my opinion, Hazen should remove the structure. Building that thing to code at this stage in the game would be a complete farce. Hazen can always re-apply for a permit, and submit plans, proving that the construction meets code. I’m sure the neighbors would not appreciate the debris from this tree-house during the next storm event. Build it to code. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it! My sympathies to Inspector Shaffer, who will probably have to deal with this.

  2. Barbara Kibler says:

    Leave the tree house alone. It is an interesting feature to the island.

  3. Kathy Kay says:

    Why would anyone want this beautiful tree house taken down. Now since it has made the news, I would think more people will take a trip to come see it. That will be more money to the community. In case of the next storm event, I am sure that the debris from this tree house will not even be noticed it will be in with the rest of the houses and structures all over the beach. And for Nick I am sure that there is something in your structure that isn’t up to code, no one can see it and they probably don’t care anyway. My vote is to leave the tree house I am on my way to see it.

  4. Todd Schoolcraft says:

    A three-story? What were they thinking. If there counting the trunk as a story, then there sadly misrepresenting the size of the house

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