Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen have an epic tree house. The kind that would make any kid the envy of the neighborhood. But now the couple is appealing to the Supreme Court in an effort to prevent local authorities from forcing them to tear it down.
But this isn't just any run-of-the-mill tree house, this is a two level, multi-windowed getaway that has a view of the Gulf of Mexico. Altogether, it cost Tran and Hazen $30,000 to build the treehouse, but they have reportedly spent approximately five times that fighting to keep it up. Tran calls it their "getaway," and she and Hazen are appealing the nation's highest court as a last ditch effort to keep it.
"Part of me believes there's got to be justice out there and we didn't do anything wrong," said Tran.
Normally, you wouldn't think a tree house would cause much of a stir, and initially, it didn't. Tran and Hazen run the Angelinos Sea Lodge on Anna Maria island, off Florida's west coast. When they decided to build the tree house around an Australian pine on their property, Hazen asked the city if a permit was necessary. The answer was no, so over the next six months they began to build.
It wasn't long though until the the officials from the city of Holmes Beach got an anonymous complain, conducted an investigation and discovered a permit was necessary. Apparently the tree house was built in an area where building is prohibited. The couple tried to have voters weigh in on the issue, but were rejected by the courts, which have sided with the city thus far. Now, a favorable decision from the Supreme Court is their only hope.
It's an unlikely possibility. The Supreme Court hears only 80 of thousands of cases they are petitioned to review. But the couple's lawyer, David Levin, argues their rights were violated when a Florida court "rubber stamped" a ruling from the city without evidence of independent consideration.
Ironically, if Tran and Hazen are forced to tear down the tree house, they'll need a permit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.