VIRGINIA

Falls Church tree house fight goes to Fairfax County zoning board

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In October, Fairfax County authorities told a Falls Church father and Iraq war veteran that the tree house he built in his yard had to come down.

The tree house took Grapin six weeks to build. (Photo: Autria Godfrey/WJLA)

On Wednesday, Mark Grapin is taking his case, and 1,500 signatures of support, to the county zoning board.

After he returned from his last tour of duty in the Middle East, Grapin spent six weeks and $1,400 to build a 10-by-10 foot tree house in his front yard. But after an anonymous complaint, Fairfax County put him on notice that the structure violated zoning laws.

The structure at Grapin's Marc Drive home is in his front yard.

“It is heartbreaking,” Grapin says. “I shudder to think of the possibility of having to unscrew all these boards and take them apart for the trash man.”

Grapin's fight has already cost him thousands of dollars, and on Wednesday, he'll hand deliver thousands of signatures on a petition that was started by another Army sergeant on the activist website Change.org.

"Mr. Grapin, like all soldiers, cannot promise a safe return home from the battlefield," Army Sgt. Cameron Dunbar-Yamaguchi, who started the petition, said in a statement. "But soldiers can try to make a more tangible pact with friends and family. A treehouse was such a pact."

Grapin's hearing with the zoning board is likely his last chance to safe the tree house from demolition, despite the fact that he says Fairfax County gave him the go-ahead to build it months ago.

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