Commission Discussing Destruction of Kids' Tree House

HIGHLAND, AR (KAIT) - Officials with Highland's Planning and Zoning Commission are discussing a problematic tree house on Valley Heart in the Hidden Valley subdivision. Brian Shackelford built his kids a 2-story tree house last summer, but some residents believe it's an eyesore.

According to the city's Bill of Assurance, Section 2-C states, "no building or modern mobile home shall be erected or moved on to any lot of this subdivision which does not conform to the following restrictions of use, area, setbacks and other restrictions herein set forth."

The Bill of Assurance states all structures constructed on properties within the Hidden Valley subdivision must be 25 feet away from the front and side yards. The tree house on Valley Heart is 16 feet from the front and 14 feet from the back.

"They had no plans. They had no permission to do it because they thought it was their house, their tree, they thought it wouldn't bother anybody else," said Ralph Sharp, Code Enforcement Officer for Highland.

"The setback is 25 foot from the front of the property, and 25 foot from the side of the property. And also in here it says there must be a set of plans shown to the Planning Department showing that the plans and the property is owned by the person building the structure," said Sharp. "It's 14 foot from Hiawatha, which leads down the Cherokee Village and it's 16 foot from Valley Heart, one of the main streets on Hidden Valley."

Shackelford said he didn't know the Bill of Assurance existed, but still believes the tree house should stay planted where it is.

"If they want to go by government rules and get all technical and not have any common sense at all, then yeah, it'll be gone," said Shackelford. "I built it so they'd have a place to play, and the neighborhood kids have a place to play too. It's safe, and you know, you went up there, I mean it's not going to fall."

"A building permit or anything like that, I've never heard of. I mean, I build here in town and I've never heard of a regulation on a tree house," said Shackelford.

Shackelford said he took safety into consideration before building the tree house.

"See there's no way for them to get down over here. They can get in the tree house and they could jump that if they wanted to but basically from up there and over there, there's no other way to the side of the fences," said Shackelford.

Eli and Gracie, who play in the tree house every day after school, said all the neighbors' kids enjoy the structure.

"We have a lot of fun. We can play games. The rope is fun. I can slide," said Eli. "I don't think it's fair to us."

"When we have sleepovers all my friends wanted to play on the tree house," said Gracie.

"I don't think grownups understand because the only reason they want to take it down is because some people complained about it," said Gracie.

If the commission decides to move forward, then it could vote on the issue in April.