Friday, April 17, 2009

Treehouses: A Growing Menace


Advocates of strong zoning controls should consider themselves on notice; The treehouse construction industry is slowly undermining the land use system.

Recently, there has been a wonderful string of news articles about confrontations between neighbors over the zoning of (really large!) treehouses (see here, here, and here). These cases illustrate all of the best things about property (how nasty disputes between neighbors turn into bitter rivalries, the difficulty of balancing rules and standards, the role of community norms, the proper role of government). But my favorite thing about these online stories is the comments left by members of the public.  They show just how much people care about local property issues. 

The picture at left is from the endearing website,, which chronicles the struggle of Scot and Mary Welch against the zoning powers of Clinton, Mississippi.  The parties spent over $50,000 on attorneys' fees, the case went all the way to the Mississippi Supreme Court, and, awesomely, the courtroom was packed during the oral argument.

Steve Clowney

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A few years ago Fairfax County, Virginia, tried to
move against a basketball backboard on complaint of neighbors. The board hastily withdrew its notice to the parents in the face of intense pressure from the electeds and overwhleming public ridicule.

Posted by: Bill Malone | May 7, 2009 12:03:59 PM

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