Zoning Board Orders Dad to Destroy His Daughter's Birthday Present

The war on tree houses


I know some bigger, scarier scandals are unfolding, but you should spare a little outrage for a local story:

These woods aren't zoned for time travel, kids.
Random House

The Selinsgrove [Pennsylvania] Zoning Board voted unanimously Thursday night to have J.C. Carlson remove a partially built tree house from his property.

Carlson started building the tree house last month for his daughter's birthday.

That's when officials told him he needed a building permit, and the tree house violated the borough's zoning laws.

Hundreds of students in Samantha Carlson's school signed a petition in support of keeping the tree house, but the zoning board disagreed.

Sadly, this isn't the first time a zoning board has waged a war on treehouses:

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  1. If you outlaw treehouses, only outlaws will have arboreal superiority.

    1. If you outlaw letting inlaws live in treehouses then only inlaws will live in outlaw…oh never mind.

  2. Silly little commoner didn’t ask permission of his betters. tsk tsk.

  3. “. . . but the zoning board disagreed.” Of course they did, what is one families’ happiness compared to maintaining bureaucratic order?

  4. Which asshole neighbor called the zoning board? Or do they just have roving zoning douchebags checking people’s houses in Statistsylvania

    1. Here in the glorious people’s socialist republic of Massachusetts we do have guys doing just that. When we were having our roof done, they nailed us for having a dumpster without a permit after someone from the town govt drove by and saw the dumpster in our driveway.

      Apparently it brings in enough money that they do it religiously a couple of hours a week.

      1. If there was such a thing as “society”, the roving douche’s house would have been burned to the ground by now.

        1. I would just drop a dumpster on his property, and then file a complaint when it wasn’t removed since he obviously doesn’t have the correct paperwork.

          1. Since *he* handles the complaints, and has been buddies for the past 20 years with the people who would investigate his ‘violation’, I don’t think he’d suffer much.

            The best revenge is living well.

            1. The best revenge is living well.

              No. The best revenge is burning down the guy’s home with him in it.

              1. And then fining and jailing him for the public nuisance exhibited by the ruins.

              2. Have him drawn and quartered, then arrest the pieces.

      2. That is fucking insane.

      3. yep – happened to us, too

    2. Maybe he tried to get a permit for something else, and that’s when they noticed.

      When my father tried to get a permit to build an addition to his house, the inspector noticed that his greenhouse had been built without permission. So what if it had sturdily stood there for thirty years and was there when he purchased the place, dicks must be dicks and he was ordered to tear it down before any permits would be issued.
      So he did. He didn’t replace it because it would cost ten grand, if he could get a permit.
      Afterwards it was another six months and several thousand dollars before any permit was issued. The inspector flat out said that his job was to prevent any new construction. And people wonder why the economy is in the shitter when government assholes pride themselves in destroying wealth while not allowing economic activity.

      1. Trust me, I know ALL about fucking building inspections assholes. I wish I could show every person in America what these shitweasels are capable of and then explain to them why it’s fucking stupid to think they own their land/building.

        1. I don’t know if you watch Gold Rush Alaska on Discovery or not, but at one point several of the mines were inspected. The inspector knew that what he was doing was wrong, or he wouldn’t have demanded that he not be filmed. He seemed almost giddy that he could shut down someone’s mine and cost them tons of money. People like that need to be shot. Seriously.

          1. I fell behind and need to catch up so I haven’t seen that episode yet. But seriously, shooting someone like that seems like way to nice a way to deal with them.

          2. There’s no tyranny quite like petty tyranny.

          3. Maybe it’s just me, but somehow or another, if I knew I was screwing over a bunch of miners, the last thing I’d be looking for is to not be filmed. Mines can be awfully dangerous places.

        2. Here in Prague most buildings are covered by the ‘historical preservation’ or however the hell you translate it. Just another layer of fuckheads that need to be bribed and kowtowed to in order to do something simple like replace the roof.

          1. We visit Carmel, CA once a year. There was a house damaged in a landslide. The building inspectors were demanding he rebuild to modern specs, the historical preservation board demanded he rebuild to original. A year later, the story was still mentioned in the local paper.

            1. I knew a guy from Carmel. Told me how Eastwood ran for mayor because the rich retired community were trying to get rid of all that pesky tourism, banning eating ice cream in public, etc. At that time Clint wasn’t doing much film and his main thing was his bar in Carmel.

        3. I once built a deck. Followed the “required” procedures *exactly*, getting signatures every step of the way. At the penultimate inspection of the ongoing construction, the inspector decided I had to make a major change to the structure. Under considerable duress and with lots of cleverness and sweat my buddy and I pulled it off.

          It later dawned on me that the asshole wanted a bribe.

    3. I remember a report from a couple of years ago (too lazy to look it up) that said zoning boards were using google earth to locate unpermitted construction projects.

      1. All the time, in every town…

  5. Unless the treehouse was on a limb overhanging his neighbor’s yard, what business does the town have saying anything?

    1. What, you think people actually own “their” property? They’re just renting it with permission of the government.

    2. What, you think you can just do whatever you want with property you own?

  6. Hundreds of students in Samantha Carlson’s school signed a petition in support of keeping the tree house, but the zoning board disagreed.

    They learned a valuable lesson.


    1. I know it’s wishful thinking, but I hope some of them grow up to be libertarians because of that.

  7. Unless the treehouse was on a limb overhanging his neighbor’s yard, what business does the town have saying anything?

    This, boys and girls, is what is referred to as a “rhetorical question”.

    1. And the answer, as always, is “fuck you, that’s why”.

  8. “Silly peasant thinks he owns his own property? We’ll show him!”

  9. Notice nobody says “it’s a free country” any more? It just isn’t.

    1. I say it whenever I can.

      Almost always, the person I say it to starts suddenly and glances to see if they are being overheard.

      It’s fascinating and a little depressing and really funny all at the same time.

      1. Funny – I do the same thing.

        But followed by, “Right? It’s a free country….right?”

        *looks around….*

    2. What are you talking about? You’re free to ask permission and take orders! What more do you want?

      1. And really, those are the most important freedoms.

      2. I want the freedom to determine which hand my sex-monitoring chip is implanted in.

        1. Then cut off the other one.

  10. What a shame.

    Last year when I was in New Orleans, I visited an art space called ‘The Treehouse’ built in one of those old crumbling French-colonial mansions. High ceilings with baroque cornering and peeling paint gave it the feel of an Anne Rice vampire novel.
    But the namesake is that in the back yard they have the most monstrous treehouse built by some of the residents out of kids jungle-jim components. It had multiple levels, slides connecting the levels, and a rope bridge connecting it to another multi-story tree-house on the other side of the yard.

    1. “Jungle-Jim” sounds like some vaguely racist term from the 40’s.

      “Yeah see, you’re a real cracker jack, toots, not like jungle-jim over here, see.”

      1. Not just “jungle jim”. A lot of playground equipment sounds like derogatory terms.

        Monkey bars? Black speakeasies.

        “I went to a monkey bar last night- they had a great jazz singer there I tells ya!”

        Teeter Totter? A loose woman.

        “Well, what’d she expect to get going out there like a teeter totter?”

    2. NOLA can be great. However, here in the French Quarter we have the Vieux Carre Preservation Society (HOA on steroids) and they have a helicopter. They routinely take aerial pics of the neighborhood to issue fines for new air-conditioners, improperly situated patio furniture and painting one’s property a different color than it has been for the last 300+ years.
      A more recent problem has surfaced in the form of real estate developer/lawyer Stuart Smith. He, and his like-minded gentrifiers are waging war against our tradition of live music.

      Smith has often battled what he considered illegal commercial intrusions into residential parts of the Quarter and businesses that he said create excessive noise. In 2003 he led an effort to expand the commission’s authority over changes of use in historic buildings. Previously, the commission took the position that it had no authority to authorize or block a change of use, only to regulate architectural changes.

      1. St. Roch Tavern has been a live-music venue for 80+ years. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Stuart Smith and his 2 friends who moved to the neighborhood post-Katrina to flip properties, they may have to close because these 2 precious snowflakes don’t like live music in their neighborhood. FUCK OFF SLAVERS!!


      2. Why the fuck would anyone choose to live anywhere in New Orleans, much less in or near the French Quarter if they don’t like live bands? There are fucking neighborhood street bands who play in the middle of the road, for fuck’s sake!!! If you don’t like it, don’t buy a house in a place where playing trumpet music in the middle of the street is part of the local culture!

  11. The people of Selinsgrove should contact their superiors

    Selinsgrove Borough
    Zoning Hearing Board Members

    Cyril Runkle, Chairman
    300 East Bough Street
    Selinsgrove, PA 17870
    Term expires 12/31/16

    Brenda Fabian
    534 Eighth Street
    Selinsgrove, PA 17870
    Term expires 12/31/13

    James Forster
    908 Eighth Street
    Selinsgrove, PA 17870
    Term expires 12/31/14

    Edward Mann
    216 West Snyder Street
    Selinsgrove, PA 17870
    Term expires 12/31/15

    Arnold Gentner
    108 South High Street
    Selinsgrove, PA 17870
    Term expires 12/31/13

    Robert Slivinski, Solicitor
    111 North High Street
    Selinsgrove, PA 17870

    1. Photographs would have been nice.

  12. I now sit on a Commission that reviews zoning board change proposals.
    [We have no power to amend those already on the books.] You would be surprised (no, I guess you wouldn’t) how many busybodies are always
    ready to restrict their neighbors’ use of property. It has been rather effective to point out that any new restrictions imposed on an existing property owner are, in effect, a public taking and that said
    owners can sue the township/taxpayers for compensation. One can imagine the expense if several hundred homeowners need to be compensated if they are no longer allowed to have a gravel driveway.

    1. I wish I could zone away your comment’s strange format with sentences moving to a new line halfway across.

    2. Since I became a stay at home dad in October I’ve noticed the HOA people spend most of their days wandering through the development looking for shit to complain about.

      1. They must have relatives in our community, cause….ditto.

        Lulz. We break the rules just to make them mad, cause my wife was on the board for awhile and knows evvvverrrrryone who’s, like, 10 years in arears on their association dues.

        Unlike us, who are paid up…therefore they pretty much leave us alone.

        “Pretty nice check I send you every year….be a real shame if something happened to it cause you fined me for having a really nice boat in my driveway a couple months every year….especially when I know you haven’t collected a nickel from my next door neighbor in a decade and nothing’s happened to him.”

      2. The first rule of government is that you should assume that every law made will someday be wielded by the douchiest guy in your HOA.

        1. Think of your local HOA has the minor-league A-ball affiliate of some major league government bureau. City hall is AA, and the state govt is AAA.

          1. Fortunately, my wife and I decided that living anywhere with an HOA wasn’t going to happen. Fuck HOAs.

            I’ll do whatever the fuck I want with my property, you fucking busybody.

  13. I had a treehouse when I was a little kid. Off the top of my head I can think of several things that would get my parents in trouble today that wouldn’t have in 1987. 1-I actually fell off the ladder and broke my ankle 2-I used to throw things into my neighbor’s treehouse, basically we had treehouse wars 3- I was almost never supervised.

    1. My parents let me build my own treehouse, unsupervised, at around age 9. Two of my cousins (same age) and I were up in a tree 12 feet off the ground with bow saws, standing on a floor we had constructed out of trees 1-2 inches thick, with the nearest adult a quarter mile away. This was mid 90s.

      1. Well considering where you hang out on the internet, you can see the obvious damage inflicted on you by parental neglect. Have you considered a lawsuit?

  14. One can imagine the expense if several hundred homeowners need to be compensated if they are no longer allowed to have a gravel driveway.

    I heard somebody the other day talking about some locality where property ‘owners’ are required to bring their places up to code before they will be permitted to put them on the market.

    Have we completely abandoned the concept of ex post facto?

    1. It was officially abandoned several years ago when people who had long ago served their time for sex crimes were ordered to register with the police.

    2. Ex post facto? That sounds like some crazy old dead language. It’s probably a hundred years old or something.

  15. Back in the days when this was a relatively free country, people would be shamed out of doing things like this.

    1. I believe that, sadly, the only libertarian place that will work (e.g. not get overrun with statist nannies) is the frontier. Since we don’t have any left on Earth, we won’t really get a libertarian government until we push out into space. And the zone of libertarianism will have to keep moving further out as nannies expand somewhat more slowly.

      1. I’m okay with that if I get to fuck strange tail like Kirk.

      2. Heinlein said something to the effect that since most nannies are idiots and space is a harsh environment the wannabe nannies won’t last long.

    2. Now they get re-elected.

  16. The Selinsgrove [Pennsylvania] Zoning Board voted unanimously


  17. So do the Stalinsgrove zoning people go home and say, “wow, what a tough day, but a fulfilling one – I ordered a guy to take down a treehouse he made his daughter for her birthday!”

  18. This strikes as a prudent decision. Just think of all the pop tarts those kids could chew into the shape of guns in there. You people are monsters.

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