Claremore Daily Progress

Community News Network

June 7, 2013

Pa. zoning board orders removal of young girl's tree house

SELINSGROVE, Pa. — Tears streamed down 11-year-old Samantha Carlson’s cheeks after the Selinsgrove, Pa. Zoning Hearing Board denied a variance request on Thursday night that would have allowed her father to keep the tree house he was building for his daughter’s birthday.

The five-member zoning board ruled unanimously that the tree house violated a borough ordinance and that it had to be razed.

Upon hearing the vote, Samantha’s father, a visibly upset John “J.C.” Carlson, said: “After serving 22 years in the military and thinking I’ve seen everything, tonight proved me absolutely wrong. I’ve never in my life seen anyone deny a child a tree house.”

For more than an hour, the Carlsons, represented by attorney Joel Wiest, and about 14 friends and neighbors, attempted to persuade the board that the family should be granted a variance, and allowed to continue to build an 8-foot by 6-foot wooden structure on a tree stump in the front yard of the Carlsons’ home.

Wiest opened the hearing by conceding that the tree house could be classified as an “accessory structure” on Carlson’s property.

“What we are asking for this evening is a variance from that portion of your borough code, which states that the setback for a structure in this zoned area is 35 feet. We are asking for a variance from that requirement.”

One by one, neighbors stood up and testified under oath that having the tree house in the neighborhood would not detract from the essence of the neighborhood.

Neighbor George Pence said he collected a petition signed by 20 neighbors saying “Let them build the tree house.”

Another neighbor, Carol Scartelli, said: “I am thrilled at the project. It is something Mark Twain would do.”

Terry Sprenkle attested to the family’s character.

“They are good people, a good Christian family and it is how they are raising their daughter,” she said. “This shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s only a temporary tree house. Let’s just let them have it.”

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS-HB0713-HowardMartin-004.jpg Airman laid to rest back home in Indiana six decades after death

    The mystery of what happened to a military transport plane that disappeared in the fall of 1952 into an Alaskan glacier was solved two years ago when a helicopter crew spotted the wreckage. But it took another two years to retrieve the remains of Airman Howard Miller and 16 other servicemen passengers. Saturday, Miller was laid to rest in his hometown of Elwood, Ind., with full military honors. Hundreds turned out for the funeral and burial services.

    July 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • New York to offer free lunch to all middle-school students

    New York's $75 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that began last week includes the first step toward offering free lunch for all 1.1 million students, expanding a program now reserved only for the city's poorest children.

    July 9, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 11.24.10 AM.png VIDEO: Pilot buys pizzas for storm-delayed travelers

    A Frontier Airlines pilot went above and beyond the call of duty when a recent flight from Washington, D.C. to Denver was diverted to Cheyenne, Wyoming due to bad weather.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why North Korean cheerleaders may soon descend on the South

    When you think of North Korea, "cheerleaders" may not be the first thing that springs to mind. The Hermit Kingdom is perhaps better known for less savory things like gulag-like labor camps and leadership purges.

    July 8, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 11.46.13 AM.png VIDEO: Foiled beach gear theft goes viral

    Video capturing a bizarre confrontation with two women allegedly attempting to steal beach gear on a Florida beach has gone viral.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 10.40.20 AM.png VIDEO: Sleeping fan suing Yankees, ESPN for $10M

    A fan caught on camera sleeping during a recent game at Yankee Stadium has filed suit against the Yankees and ESPN, claiming he suffered emotional distress when two announcers mocked him on the air.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: A boom in firework sales

    This year could be quite the boom for fireworks sales across the U.S. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, or the APA, sales are already off to a good start.

    July 4, 2014

  • Happy birthday, America. Now legalize fireworks.

    Through the smoke of Roman candles and bottle rockets, the absurdity of Americans' obsession with do-it-yourself explosives is nonetheless clear: One day each year, we gather with neighbors, friends and loved ones to blow stuff up in our backyards. Go, U.S.A.!

    July 4, 2014