It’s back to court for Holmes Beach and the couple who own the beachfront treehouse.
To force removal of the treehouse, the city of Holmes Beach filed a new lawsuit Feb. 22 in 12th Circuit Court against owners Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen.
“We’re looking for an order that puts the court’s authority behind our orders,” said attorney Jim Dye, principal in Dye, Harrison, and the lead attorney for the treehouse matter since 2013.
The petition sets forth three theories “that get us to the same place,” Dye said.
The complaint asks the court to enforce the 2013 code enforcement board and 2016 special magistrate orders through an injunction requiring “immediate removal.”
Tran and Hazen have been under city orders to remove the treehouse since July 2013, as well as a fine of $50 a day effective July 22, 2015. The suit estimates the fine has climbed to $50,000.
Tran and Hazen built the two-deck treehouse without permits in 2011 seaward of the erosion control line in a 50-foot city setback at their a residence, which includes four short-term rental units called Angelinos Sea Lodge, 103 29th St.
What’s followed has kept the residents and city at odds — and the owners taking a loss at each juncture.
The owners maintain they built the treehouse as a reading space and for their personal relaxation, and were told they didn’t need a permit by a former city official before constructing it.
They sought and failed to obtain an after-the-fact permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, relief in state courts and lastly, in a petition turned down by the U.S. Supreme Court in January, they lost plea for a citywide vote to grandfather the treehouse.
The owners have 20 days to respond after being served and, as of Feb. 23, they had not been served, according to Tran.
“Meanwhile, the fine will keep running,” Dye said.
The city also asks the court for its costs and fees in bringing the new action.
Judge Lon S. Arend has been assigned to the case.