A photo of the partially-constructed tree house. Source: Sandyspringsga.gov
A photo of the partially-constructed tree house. Source: Sandyspringsga.gov

There’s no matter too small for a zoning dispute in Sandy Springs, even a tree house.

During the Nov. 19 city council meeting, council members spent about 30 minutes debating a zoning application for a tree house presented by Rafael Celedon, who lives in the Talbot Colony neighborhood. Celedon’s property is one of several in that area built near Georgia 400.

Celedon wanted to build a tree house – technically it’s a playhouse, but the council used those terms interchangeably – for his kids, ages 9 and 11.

Celedon has been working to get the tree house approved since August. It was already partially constructed, but Celedon learned that he needed a permit.

By the time he got the permit with some restrictions on Nov. 19, Celedon said he would withdraw the application.

“It’s been a long painful process for me,” he told City Council.

Patrice Dickerson, manager of planning and zoning for the city, told city council that play houses that are no larger than 120 square feet do not require a permit. The property is 15 feet high and 183 square feet, according to the application.

Celedon’s neighbor, Cynthia Wilkins, requested a 30 day deferral to address some of her concerns, and City Council briefly considered a motion to defer for 60 days.

City Councilman Chip Collins said that was unnecessary and recommended approval, with a few conditions to screen the property from the neighbors.

“To my mind we’ve already spent too much time and effort on this,” Collins said. “I certainly don’t think it’s worthy of a deferral of 30 or 60 days. Either grown people can figure this out or we can’t.”

Council agreed with Collins. When a reporter caught up with Celedon outside of the meeting, he said he was giving up on his plans to build the tree house on the property.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com