Michigan Family’s Dispute With City Centers on Treehouse

August 31, 2018

A Michigan family is fighting with city officials over the legality of a large wooden treehouse.

A judge has instructed Ann Arbor residents Tamar Boyadjian and Greg Douglas to either bring their treehouse up to code by Friday or take it down, the Ann Arbor News reported.

Boyadjian said that they built the treehouse in their backyard last year to give their children a place to play.

She said the project began without a city permit, because city officials initially told them they didn’t need one. An inspector informed them weeks after construction started that a permit was required and they started the process of applying, according to Boyadjian.

She said they’ve made numerous changes to the structure and paid multiple fines.

“So far, we’ve paid $1,200 in fines, and then there are additional fines that they’re trying to get us to pay, and then all of the payments for revisions, plans, permits, etc.” Boyadjian said. “We’ve paid the fines, but we’re contesting this last fine for $5,000. The city prosecutor was also suggesting jail time at one point for the treehouse.”

The city took the treehouse issue to court last year after complaints from neighbors regarding the structure. Officials say they’re enforcing the city’s building and zoning codes.

“They have to comply with the building code. It’s that simple,” said Senior Assistant City Attorney Kristen Larcom.

Boyadjian alleges she’s being unfairly prosecuted. She also said her neighbors have a history of complaining about her family, including reporting loud music or their trash cans being on the curb for too long.

“One neighbor told me they didn’t think my family was a good cultural fit for the neighborhood,” Boyadjian said.

Boyadjian said she believes the treehouse will soon be up to city code.

“We’re actively working toward it now that the plans got approved, so depending on the city and whether they comply and say it’s OK, hopefully we should be able to finish it,” she said.

The issue will be reviewed in court Sept. 7.

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