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FED-UP RESIDENTS DESTROY TEENS' TREEHOUSE HANGOUT

A group of Salt Lake County residents has put an end to a west-side teenage hangout, tearing it down with chain saws and hammers.

The residents said the treehouse had plagued their suburban neighborhood for a year by providing a place for teens to smoke marijuana, paint graffiti and have sex."It drove these people nuts," said Salt Lake County sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Harwood. "My concern is that these people are entitled to their peace and quiet."

The group demolished the treehouse on Saturday after obtaining a permit from a canal company. The treehouse was pieced together with scrap wood and built near the canal.

"What were we supposed to do? Take their crap?" said a woman who refused to give her name for fear of reprisals. "No. We're standing up to them."

A group of teenagers tried to defend their haunt by climbing the tree, but they retreated when deputy sheriffs arrived.

"If you cut this down and we fall, we'll sue you," one teen said.

"We don't bother no one," another said. "We just hang out."

All denied they damaged property or caused trouble. However, the youths - most of them Bennion Junior High School students - did acknowledge painting graffiti on the treehouse.

"We took our own boards up there, and we wrote on it," one teen said. "It was ours to write on."

They said they now will look for a new tree to adopt as a hangout.