Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Pennsylvania girl allowed to keep tree house a few more months

By Rachel Martin |

PITTSBURGH — It took 18 minutes for a township official to explain to a standing-room-only crowd how a zoning appeal works — and to say officials wouldn’t decide anything that night.

Vince Restauri, zoning hearing board solicitor for Leet Township, said Friday it takes at least two of the three members to make decisions: one was present, one had resigned and one was absent for “pressing personal reasons.”

As reported in June, Elise Truchan’s family had to pay $500 for a chance at an official permission slip to keep the elaborate tree house she built as a school project. A building inspector decided it was an “accessory building,” and those aren’t allowed in front yards in the township.

The family initially made a deal with the township that allowed them to keep the tree house until October. But the building inspector said he hadn’t agreed to the deal. He said the Truchans needed to file for a variance — that official permission slip — “within the next five days or remove the tree house.”

Restauri said the township would be available after the hearing-that-wasn’t, to discuss settlement.

The family stayed, and a generous handful of people waited outside. “That’s all my sister and her husband try to do, is the right thing,” said Jules Heidish, Elise’s aunt.

Restauri emerged 36 minutes later: “We settled.”

He explained that Elise would be able to keep the tree house until Dec. 31. He said he hoped there would be some good weather and she could perhaps get a little more enjoyment out of it.

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