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Petition drive tries to save Fairfax Co. treehouse

Monday - 10/31/2011, 10:56am  ET

treehouse512.jpg
It took six weekends to build the treehouse. (WTOP Photo/Hank Silverberg)

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- There's a new tactic in the battle over a treehouse in Fairfax County: A national online petition drive is under way to try to convince the local zoning board not to have it torn down.

Iraq war veteran Mark Grapin kept the promise he made to his two boys before he went off to war. He built them a treehouse on the side of his house in the Broyhill Park area of Fairfax County.

He spent $1,400 on materials and more than $2,000 more on permits once the zoning board told him he had violated the rules.

The board's decision spread quickly on the Internet after WTOP first reported the dispute. Now, Army Sgt. Cameron Dunbar-Yamaguchi in Oregon has started a petition drive to help Grapin with his appeal.

"My first reaction was 'Oh my god. Someone wants permission to handcuff themselves to the tree house,'" says Grapin.

But he says he was delighted when he saw how it was being treated.

More than 700 people have signed the petition posted on Change.org. Three hundred are from Fairfax County.

"We're trying to keep the treehouse, and correct something we got a little wrong in the process," Grapin says.

He says his two sons, who are 9 and 11, reacted with "wide-eyed wonder" to all the fuss over their treehouse.

Grapin says he's hoping to sway at least one vote on the Fairfax County Zoning Board at a Nov. 30 appeal hearing. He says the petition should help.

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