Airman Fights to Keep Family Tree House

Fairfax County asks Springfield family to move or remove tree house

A second Fairfax County military family has been asked to move or take down its new tree house.

Airman Phillip Blevins spent two years building an eco-friendly tree house with his sons after the Air Force family was transferred from Colorado to Springfield, Va.

“We contacted the county and said we are looking at building a tree house in the backyard, and they told us that for a tree house, unless it was going to be something extravagant, that we didn’t need any permissions or paperwork to go along with that,” Blevins said.

Two months after finishing the tree house, Blevins was deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, and someone anonymously brought the tree house to Fairfax County's attention, saying it was too close to the fence line.

Denise Blevins called a zoning official and asked for a delay.

“I said, There's nothing I can do. My husband is deployed. What am I going to do?” she said. “And he said that he would just talk to his supervisors and see if we could delay any action on it, and he did.”

But on Friday, the family got a court summons saying the tree house has to be moved or torn down within 21 days.

Last month, there was a groundswell of outrage from the neighbors of Mark Grapin, an Iraqi war veteran who finally won permission to keep his children's tree house standing in Fairfax County after his second try for a zoning variance.

The Blevins family is hoping for the same outcome.

“It seemed to be very similar with the other gentleman, and my guess is the timelines were pretty similar as well,” Airman Blevins said. “They just happened to get to our tree house a little later than his.”

A county spokesperson told News4 the county is looking in to the matter. In the meantime, the Blevins’ have contacted a lawyer.

The Blevins said they don't believe they can appeal the summons before the Fairfax County Zoning Board because the matter is already in circuit court.

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