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The State of NoVa
Posted at 06:18 AM ET, 01/05/2012

Fairfax again embroiled in treehouse controversy

For the second time in several months, Fairfax County has taken formal steps to move or take down a large, homemade treehouse for kids. Once again the builder is an American soldier.

The Grapin treehouse in Falls Church overcame controversy and now stands legally. Will the Blevins treehouse in Springfield also achieve zoning nirvana? (Courtesy of Mark Grapin)
In October, Mark W. Grapin of the Falls Church area was told his treehouse on stilts was considered to be in the front yard of his corner lot, and therefore violated zoning regulations. After an uproar, and shortly before he shipped out to Iraq with the Army National Guard, the county reversed its previous denial of a zoning variance, and allowed the treehouse to stand.

Now Jane Watrel of NBC 4 reports that Philip Blevins, who is in the Air Force, built a tree house seven feet off the ground for his kids in Springfield. While Blevins was deployed in Iraq, he was cited for violating the zoning code. The case has moved to Fairfax Circuit Court.

I asked Merni Fitzgerald, Fairfax County’s chief spokeswoman, what the deal was. “First off, we have the greatest respect for the men and women who serve in the military,” she said. But, “unfortunately, the treehouse doesn’t meet what’s legally allowed.” It is more than seven feet off the ground and very close to the property line. Fitzgerald said to be in compliance, it had to be lowered or moved elsewhere in the yard.

She said the county contacted the Blevins family six months ago but ”attempts to work with them were unsuccessful.” Whenever complaints are received, as they were here, inspectors check them out and note violations to maintain everyone’s quality of life, Fitzgerald said. The matter appears headed to a judge.

Here’s are the Blevins speaking in Watrel’s piece:

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By  |  06:18 AM ET, 01/05/2012

Categories:  Fairfax County, Springfield | Tags:  Blevins treehouse, Virginia

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