The Shackelfords built their children a treehouse in their front yard. According to the couple, the treehouse was an ongoing project that they worked on as they had time and materials.
Melissa said she wanted the treehouse in the front yard because it is fenced in and that is where she can watch the children closely. But, the city of Highland disagreed with the placement of the treehouse stating that it violates building codes.
Ralph Sharp, Highland's code enforcement officer stated, in a letter written to the Shackelfords, that the treehouse was not in compliance with the building requirements in the city.
"Mr. Sharp told us during construction that as long as he didn't receive any complaints it (the treehouse) would be fine," Shackelford said. "We didn't think we needed a permit because we weren't building on to our house or building a permanent structure."
The commission said the treehouse is in violation because it is not 25 feet from the road on both sides. "I don't want the treehouse to be torn down," planning and zoning commissioner Jack Kimbrell said. He continued by saying if it is in violation then action has to be taken.
"I take offense to this because we (Highland) don't have anything for the kids to do, I think an imagination is great," commissioner Larry Allen said. "I think it (the treehouse) should be allowed to exist."
"I wish you could hear them playing in it (the treehouse), it's a castle, it's a spaceship, it's a UFO," Melissa said. "You always hear about how kids today are corrupted by video games and TV, but my kids love to get off of the bus and play in their treehouse."
Melissa also told the commission that she feels the letter she received was offensive in calling the treehouse an eyesore. "There are a lot of things I would consider an eyesore in Highland," she said. "Who is to say what is an eyesore?"
The commissioners agreed that this was not an issue of an eyesore, but of a code violation. After much discussion they voted to continue the subject until they could speak with the city attorney.
"We will speak with the city attorney and see if we can make a variance in this situation," commissioner Richard Smith said. "I don't think anyone wants to see the treehouse torn down."
Shackelford said since the issue has been made public several people have offered their support. "We have people approaching us offering to sign a petition, pickett whatever they have to do for us to keep our treehouse," she said. "We appreciate all of the support, and depending on what happens, we might need it."
The treehouse will be discussed again and voted on during the April Planning and Zoning meeting. Until that date the treehouse is safe.