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Future of Holmes Beach tree house uncertain

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MANATEE COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

A tree house in Holmes Beach is quickly becoming a popular attraction and causing a lot of controversy.

City officials say a two story tree house along Avenue E is dangerous and it must be torn down, but the owners are getting support from all over the planet.

"We just don't want to lose it," said owner Richard Hazen.

Before Hazen and his wife Lynn built the tree house, they say they got verbal permission from a Holmes Beach city official. The couple was told no permits were required.

Now, the city says their tree house is unsafe and breaks building codes. The city also says the couple did not go through the proper channels to build it. So if they don't tear it down, they could be fined up to $500 dollars a day.

The couple disagrees with some points in the city's report.

One of the violations listed in the building inspection report actually deals with the supporting trees down below. The city report said: "The floor platforms appear to be supported by the trunks of both live and dead Australian pine trees."

There is one real tree under the structure, but the other four supporting trunks are actually man-made. They're designed to look like real trees.  

"There are some things on there that are not true," said Lynn Tran. "I just hope that they don't drag this out and turn it into a gigantic issue that it should not be."

The news is spreading across the planet. The couple even got an interview request from Australia.

Holmes Beach city hall even received an email from Israel.  Randi from Beer Sheva wrote, "It's giving such a bad name to America to see situations like this."

While there has been a lot of support for the couple around the world, there have been supporters on the city's side as well.

Emails have been pouring into Holmes Beach city hall. One writer said if the couple illegally built this, they shouldn't be rewarded.

The mayor wouldn't comment, but did say the Code Enforcement Board will meet next month to decide whether to levy fines.

Hazen said he doesn't have any intention of tearing the tree house down.

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