In Minneapolis, tree house makes for bad neighbors

Minneapolis is after a kid’s tree house.

A neighbor of Clement Pryke in the city’s Lowry Hill neighborhood blew the whistle on the tree house because it was too close to his property and because … it’s Minneapolis.

Down it must come, the city said, despite the fact that 13 neighbors of Pryke’s signed a petition, realizing that (a) kids don’t stay kids for very long and (b) tree houses usually go away when the kids do.

The elder tells the Star Tribune’s Eric Roper Steve Brandt it’ll come down in 2019, when the kid heads off to college.

But young Daniel Pryke’s appeal letter to the Board of Adjustment — the appeal will be heard tomorrow — is delightful.

  • John O.

    Hopefully, the complaining neighbor has done every single home improvement to code, pulled building permits when required, kept the yard in impeccable condition, shoveled and scraped sidewalks, etc. If there are 13 neighbors queued up to support the kid’s treehouse, I somehow have a feeling this isn’t the first rodeo with this complainant.

  • Kassie

    It is six inches from the lot line. I’d be mad too if I was the neighbor. Teenagers having sleepovers six inches from my property is annoying. They should have talked to the neighbor before building it there, that would have been the right thing to do.

    • Would it be less annoying 54 inches farther away?

      • Those 4 and a half feet make all the difference!


      • Kassie

        Yes. 5 feet is a lot more than six inches. You don’t see the difference? My neighbor’s house is about 5 feet from the property line. It is close, but not right no top of us. In the city, inches matter.

        And six inches closer AND much higher than allowed would make me feel like the neighbor was watching me all the time. I’d be pretty mad too.

        Again, all they probably had to do was clear it with the neighbor first. That would have been the right thing to do.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    Another instance of me not being able to understand how this was not laughed out of city hall.

  • Gary F

    Tree houses rock.

  • Anna

    Pardon me if I am incorrect but isn’t this the same neighborhood that had neighbors up in arms due to the demolition of perfectly good houses to build McMansions? That seems to be the trend in the older neighborhoods in Minneapolis.

    I agree with John O. This isn’t the grumpy neighbor’s first rodeo. Is the tree house blocking the sunlight excessively? Are the kids making noise every single night?

    I think Daniel is behaving like an adult. I have my doubts about the grumpy neighbor.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    In situations like this I tend to side with Prykes. But go to Google Maps street view and take a look at the image. Its from last summer but the platform is in the tree. The tree and the tree house are closer to the neighbor’s house than the Prykes. Also its in the front yard near the house. When I first read this I pictured the tree in the back yard and the tree house near a garage or maybe a patio. But from the look of it, its right next to the 2nd floor of neighbor’s house. I can see why the he might have an issue.

    • tboom

      Good point Jack, the platform is just a few feet from the neighbor’s attic window and clearly visible from the street. I’m a little surprised all the other neighbors signed off on the tree house.

    • Jeff

      Yes, Google Maps sheds (pun intended) a new light on this. If someone made a garden shed, even a beautiful one, that close to the neighbor’s house (house, not just property line) I’d understand if they were called out for violating code. I don’t think this should get an exemption just because it is a kid’s tree house. I wonder if they were trying to be good neighbors but it proved to be a nuance (like kids making too much noise late at night) that the owners wouldn’t address.

  • Chris

    I find it hard to believe that the Pryke parents (both physics professors at the University of Minnesota) didn’t bother to check the codes before building the treehouse.

    It is both too close to the property line and it’s too high by at least 4 feet.

    If I’m reading the timeline correctly, it’s been in violation for over two years–enough is enough.

    • Anna

      And you mean to tell me the neighbor didn’t hear all the sawing and hammering that was going on and is now complaining about the tree house?

      Let me guess. The irate neighbor is a snowbird and spends 8 months out of the year in Arizona, New Mexico, California, etc. so he didn’t even know the tree house was being built.

      I agree that the structure is VERY close to the neighbor’s house when you look at Google Maps but the Zillow entry on Google states the house sold for $699,000 in 2010.

      What do either of these neighbors have to complain about? That’s more than 99% of the country makes in a lifetime.

      Rich folks behaving badly.

      • Chris

        The article in City Pages makes it pretty clear that the neighbor complained a long time ago–that’s what got the city involved. The neighbor filed the request two years ago, the city inspected and informed the family that the treehouse was in violation, etc, etc, etc.

      • jon

        median household income in the US is ~$50k…
        $699k/$50k = ~14 years… or a little less than half the median income over the period for a 30 year mortgage…
        As I recall rule of thumb is ~1/3 of your budget is spent on housing… so a $699k house is a bit above average, and certainly not a starter house (conventional loan would have you putting ~140K down) but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s more than 99% make in a lifetime… unless you are planning for a very short lifetime.

        • Anna

          I admit I am wrong about the 99% but the house of the neighbor in question is FIVE times more expensive than the house my son bought in Southeast Minnesota last year.

          I say the tree house stays. It’s obviously a very trivial issue for the city if they waited two years to make a final ruling.