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Government Gone Wild

By Greg L | 11 October 2011 | Fairfax County | 17 Comments

Just one more example demonstrating why it’s time to send the Democrat majority on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors packing.

“I built the treehouse as a kept promise to my boys,” said Grapin.

It was something for the boys to look forward to when Mark, an Army Aviation Specialist, would return back to Falls Church from Iraq.

And this is no shack, it took $1,400 dollars worth of materials, six weeks of hard labor, and the boys even earned scout badges for their masterpiece.

“It fits in the neighborhood, it’s part of raising children, it is what’s expected in a single bedroom community,” said Grapin.

But apparently someone didn’t expect it. An anonymous complaint on the red treehouse raised a red flag with the county zoning board. It is a violation of the zoning ordinance.

When government has time and resources to start zeroing in on boy scouts about their treehouses, government has definitely grown too big.  It’s time to get Spike Williams in there to pare things down a bit.

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  1. Allen said on 11 Oct 2011 at 1:19 pm:
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    Read the article. Watched the Fox5 clip. I disagree with your quote:

    “When government has time and resources to start zeroing in on boy scouts about their treehouses, government has definitely grown too big.”

    The local zoning board responded to an anonymous complaint about a possible violation of existing zoning laws. This isn’t “big brother” scouring the land for something to get involved in. They got a complaint, and they investigated. That’s what they’re supposed to do.

    It’s a heart-breaking story. I hope he does get to keep the treehouse. But it’s always best to check with your neighborhood’s HOA first before you make any changes to your property. While it is your property, you agreed to abide by the HOA by-laws when you moved into that neighborhood.

    Would you run a similar story where the zoning board didn’t respond to a zoning complaint? The headline could look something like:


  2. Isophorone said on 11 Oct 2011 at 2:35 pm:
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    We have a similar (though worse) story in my neighborhood. A guy who is a special ops vet, has lived in the neighborhood for years, and has one of the nicest looking properties in the neighborhood is being driven out by Fairfax County and a couple of overzealous zoning enforcement agents. We have no HOA to limit property owners where I live, but the County has done its best to make this guy’s life miserable. It is costing him tens of thousands in fines and legal fees over what are at worst very minor violations, so he is selling out and moving. Thanks a lot, out-of-control bureaucrats!

  3. Manny said on 11 Oct 2011 at 3:10 pm:
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    Here is a way to cut down on this silliness: don’t allow anonymous complaints. If you aren’t man or woman enough to talk to address the issue face to face, or to sign you name to a complaint, then it can’t be that big of a deal.

  4. Citizen12 said on 11 Oct 2011 at 5:27 pm:
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    One mans tree house is another mans chickens and goats.

    One mans lawn ornament is another mans old chevy on cinder blocks.

    If your sitting in the middle of your own twenty wooded acres , there is a good chance none of it would mean much to your local zoning enforcement official.

  5. What the ...? said on 11 Oct 2011 at 5:31 pm:
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    Anonymous complaints are a bad idea. Our own Prince William County Neighborhood Services is driven by anonymous complaints. It is a disincentive for neighbors to work out differences and discuss issues, an opportunity for harassment, and an over-reaching intrusion into our residents privacy. Anonymous complaints should go!

  6. Ackmed said on 11 Oct 2011 at 8:17 pm:
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    What part of Illegal don’t you understand? This fudging of the rules because the rules get in the way of peoples lives is exactly the position of migrant workers. Shouldn’t we cut everyone a little slack if you want us to suspend the rules for this neighbor?

  7. Cynic said on 11 Oct 2011 at 10:02 pm:
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    That’s it. Tree House is being build for illegals. Now, there will be no problem from any level of government.

  8. Groveton said on 11 Oct 2011 at 11:41 pm:
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    I am stunned. I live in Great Falls. On several occasions my neighbors have wiped out acre after acre of trees for their horses. I call the zoning people to ask if this is allowed and all I get is the run around. I finally pinned down the lazy half-assed woman who supposedly manages the permits and asked why several acres of trees could be cut down without a permit. She allowed that any clearing of land beyond 2,500 sq ft required a grading plan. I asked to see the plan. I was told that it had been “registered” but not “picked up” by the applicant. Hence, it was not in the public domain. So, I couldn’t see it. Meanwhile, three acres of trees were leveled so some Muffy or Buffy could have a pony on site.

    And now a treehouse is banned?

    It’s time to vote against each and every incumbent on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Yes, that will hurt some good people and help some bad people. However, it will send an important message - no matter who you you are, no matter what your party … you can be replaced. Trust me, after 50+ years of living in Fairfax County - it’s time.

    Those who get elected will also get the message. Do the right thing or you are gone, gone, done …

  9. skepp said on 12 Oct 2011 at 12:46 am:
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    Grapin kept a promise to his boys? Was Mark, the one coming back from Iraq, one of his boys? If so, would an Iraq veteran be disappointed if he didn’t find a treehouse his dad had promised?

    A red treehouse that cost 1400 bucks worth of material and 6 weeks of labor!
    Sounds like a small dwelling to me.
    What if every lot in that area built red treehouses.
    Would you like to live there?

  10. Allen said on 12 Oct 2011 at 8:38 am:
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    Do away with anonymous complaints? I’ve made two anonymous complaints to my local government. Both were to the police about drug-related activity going on in my neighborhood’s park.

    I would not have made those complaints if my name had to be attached to them, in fear of retribution from those low-lifes.

  11. Citizen12 said on 12 Oct 2011 at 11:03 am:
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    Groveton said on 11 Oct 2011 at 11:41 pm:


    It would seem there is more to clearing trees than the 2500 sq ft rule. I found this information on line.

    To achieve the 45 percent canopy goal adopted by the Board in June will require private property owners in Fairfax County to actively participate in tree planting and tree preservation.

    For more information about the new tree canopy goal, call the Urban Forest Management Division 703-324-1700, TTY 711.


    Section 122-2-1. Ten-year Tree Canopy Requirements1

    (a) All land development requiring the submission of a site plan, preliminary subdivision
    plat, subdivision construction plan, conservation plan, grading plan, or a rough grading plan
    shall provide for the conservation of trees on the site such that, after ten (10) years, minimum
    tree canopy is projected to be as follows:


    In Fairfax County, some areas on private property are designated as Resource Protection Areas, Conservation Easements or Environmental Quality Corridors.

    f you want to remove a healthy tree(s) from these areas, you would need to be sure of the restrictions specific to your conservation easement or Environmental Quality Corridor.


  12. AttackWatcher said on 12 Oct 2011 at 12:47 pm:
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    More to the story. The vet called the count first to ask if he needed any permits and he was told that he did not. WMAL had the full story this morning.

    Call 703-FAIRFAX to complain about this insanity.

  13. AttackWatcher said on 12 Oct 2011 at 12:51 pm:
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    Called the county, not the count. That would have just been silly.

  14. Groveton said on 12 Oct 2011 at 3:14 pm:
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    Thanks for the added info. There is another deforestation going on behind my house right now. 45% canopy? This baby has 0% canopy. It looks like one of those Vietnam era daisy cutter bombs exploded in the lot. I asked the guy why he cut down all the trees. He said he needed the open space for horses. What is this? The Ponderosa Ranch?

  15. Groveton said on 12 Oct 2011 at 3:22 pm:
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    I know some people living on the Chesapeake out on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. They built a gazebo in their yard. Somebody complained and the authorities told them that they couldn’t have a permanent structure like that in the yard. So, they put the thing on wheels so that it could be moved a little. Turns out that exempted it from the permanent structure rule. First thing they did after they got the wheels under the gazebo? Rolled the thing as close to the complaining neighbor’s property as possible.

    I guess it would be pretty hard to put a tree house on wheels. Too bad.

  16. Rob Duecaster said on 12 Oct 2011 at 3:33 pm:
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    Cut the tree down and put the log on wheels.

    Seriously, though, the laws, ordinances, and covenants should be observed. If that’s too much to ask a homeowner, he should move.

  17. Manny said on 12 Oct 2011 at 6:30 pm:
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    Allen, come on, give me a break, I’m talking about this bureaucrat code enforcement crap. Of course criminal complaints should be anonymous.

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