Zoning laws have their place, but so does common sense. Salt Lake City could use a bit more of the latter as it attempts to eradicate a harmless 40-year-old treehouse.
City Hall must have bigger fires to fight.The "perverse" property in question sits in a willow tree adjacent to an urban farm on West Temple Street. Purchased by the current owner six years ago, the city acquired adjacent land for construction of a housing project. A boundary dispute was resolved in 1995 with an agreement that included preservation of the old tree and its lofty domicile.
Young frequenters of the property ages 11 and 14, were with their father informed last February that the treehouse failed to comply with certain zoning provisions and would have to go. One city official noted the structure was an "accessory building" that needed to be regulated.
A lawsuit now filed by the parental owner of the treehouse argues it is not a legally defined building under Salt Lake City code and should be exempt from noncompliance charges. The city doesn't see it that way. The non-conformists were told to comply or face a penalty of $150 per day.
Legitimate zoning violations merit such tough treatment, but owners of an innocent treetop play area do not. Nobody should have to research mountains of zoning documents and statutory precedent in this case - there should be no case at all.
Some one at City Hall should look at this one from a rational perspective and quickly resolve the dispute without unnecessary, senseless litigation. The death of common sense should not lead to the demise of a harmless tree-house.