A family's playhouse has grown to create a full-blown land use and zoning nightmare in one Florida neighborhood. Built on a vacant lot they own that adjoins the lot of their home after what what was apparently an incorrect statement regarding zoning laws, the $5,000 wooden playground may have to be razed because free-standing structures built on vacant laws require a permit. The family does not have a permit for the structure, but the father stated that he spent three months building it after a county engineer told him there was no such requirement.
Property rights and zoning issues have dogged the family since it was built for their 3-year-old daughter. Manatee County refused to give them any special dispensation despite their allegation that their lawyer also was told that no permit was required after checking the laws with zoning officials. Instead, they were told they had to choose one of three options: get a permit for the existing structure on the vacant lot, join the lot with the playhouse with the one with their home (in which case no additional permit would be required), or tear the child's playhouse down.
Joining the two lots would cost an estimated $2,000 per year for flood insurance, an amount that the family considers prohibitively expensive. The other options are no more attractive, they say.
The county has not yet fined the family because of the permit issue, but that may happen at the end of January, when the current permit application expires. These types of disputes often require the assistance of an attorney who is well-versed in dealing with zoning boards