Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Leet Family Fights to Keep Treehouse

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Leet Family Fights to Keep Treehouse

Article excerpt

Elise Truchan practiced making treehouses out of celery and Popsicle sticks at her kitchen table. She researched with books and TV shows and largely refused help as, bit by bit, she constructed a two-story treehouse in her front yard for an eighth-grade project.

What Elise, 14, sees as her lofted oasis - with sliding windows, a clear roof and a "No Muggles allowed beyond this point" poster - the township sees an accessory structure. Leet zoning codes prohibit accessory structures in front yards, and following a neighborhood complaint, the building inspector posted a corrections notice on the Truchan family's front door on March 26.

The notice called on the family to remove the treehouse in the next 15 days. After back and forth with the township over when the treehouse must come down, the family has now filed for a variance with the town's zoning board in hopes of keeping it.

Jonathan Truchan, Elise's father, said he and his daughter had looked at the building codes and the building permits fees website page but did not see anything that applied to a child's play structure or treehouse.

"We didn't see it as an accessory structure or a shed. We saw it as a treehouse," Vicki Truchan, Elise's mother, said.

Township officials have not set a date for the appeals but must hear the case within 60 days.

Mr. Truchan said his family reached an agreement with the township to keep the treehouse until Oct. 1 and had mailed the township's office a written statement confirming that much.

Following a TV appearance by Elise on "Fox & Friends" about her treehouse, though, the family received another notice from the inspector.

Mr. Truchan said inspector Joe Luff told him the family must apply for a variance, or the treehouse must come down in five days.

"We didn't apply for a variance [previously] because we made a deal with the township," Mr. Truchan said.

Mr. and Mrs. Truchan, both of whom are teachers, agreed that the eighth-grade project has been a trying but educational experience. …

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