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Judge Denies City’s Attempt To Block Public Viewing Of Tree House

September 18, 1987

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Mark Tucker is free to fill his seven-deck tree house with as many public visitors as he likes after a judge refused a request to block him from holding open houses.

″I have brought my tree house to above the standard of all the tree houses in the nation,″ Tucker said after Thursday’s court hearing here. ″I’ll have open houses 1 to 5 every Sunday afternoon until the snow flies.″

The open houses defy the city of St. Louis Park’s order that Tucker bring the 40-foot-high backyard tree house in compliance with building codes.

Tucker never applied for a city building permit when he erected the facility so the city lacks the information it needs to decide whether the premises are safe, said Lee Sheehy, attorney for St. Louis Park, which borders Minneapolis.

Tucker acknowledges the stair widths, rail heights and other construction details fail to meet some codes, but he says he built the house to higher standards.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Daniel Hart on Thursday said the city failed to convince him that it faced ″immediate or irreparable″ harm from the open houses.

The judge, however, will allow the city to seek a preliminary injunction against Tucker at a hearing Sept. 24.

″The citizens are unknowing and unaware″ of the possible dangers in climbing the tree house, Sheehy said.

Andy Birrell, Tucker’s attorney, said the city didn’t have to resort to such drastic measures to protect the public because city officials have been aware of the tree house construction since April.

Tucker said the city took him to court Thursday ″to cover itself with every possible legal base″ to protect against possible personal injury lawsuits that might stem from an accident in the tree house.

Tucker held an open house Labor Day weekend that drew about 1,500 visitors who donated about $3,400 for Tucker’s legal defense fund, Tucker said. He said he built the tree house at a cost of $7,500 for his five children.

Two of its decks are enclosed and the tree house is electrically wired.

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