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Backyard playhouse sparking controversy in Ellenton neighborhood

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ELLENTON, FL (WWSB) - A neighbor's complaint has lead to county demands that an Ellenton couple either tear down their child's playhouse or make some drastic changes to meet county code.

Lauren and Jason Przybyla says they visited Manatee County before constructing a playhouse for their 3-year-old daughter, asking about permitting. The couple says the county gave them the go-ahead to build the playground back in April saying they didn't need a permit. But now that a complaint was filed, the county is saying otherwise.

"We did everything we were supposed to do before building this playhouse for our daughter," Lauren Przybyla says. "A good $5,000 went into supplies. That doesn't include labor."

A neighbor complained just days after the couple finished construction.

The formal complaint to Manatee County says in part, "This playhouse has not been permitted and is a hazard from wind in a hurricane. I am a state licensed contractor and am very concerned about the installation methods."

That neighbor declined to comment and asked to not be identified. Lauren says he's since moved to Georgia.

"We hired a structural engineer and he came out and evaluated the playhouse," Lauren says. "He wrote a detailed report about the soundness of the playhouse. We have since gone through Hurricane Irma and have had no issues."

The Przybylas' neighbor Mike Rosiek, who lives closer to the playhouse than the Przybylas do, backs up that claim.

"It's really stout," Rosiek says. "If a hurricane came through here, everything else would be gone and that would still be standing."

Rosiek loves the playhouse.

"My window is right there, and I don't have a problem with it," he says. "I think it's a darn nice tree house for his daughter."

The complaint also noted, "In short, there is no protection from neighborhood kids climbing on this. It's like a pool without a fence."

A rope protects the property, but there is not an actual fence.

Mantaee County tells the Przybylas that their issue with the structure is that the playhouse doesn't meet code. They say it can't be built on a vacant lot, which is next to their home. The family owns both properties.

The family now has three options: tear down the playhouse, move the playhouse to the same lot as the house is on or unify the lots.

"Unfortunately making that decision would mean that our flood insurance would go up at least $2,000 dollars a year," Lauren says.

The Przybylas feel since it was the county's error, the playhouse should be allowed to remain as is.

"The fact that it's a zoning issue and the neighbors that complained aren't even here anymore, I think it should be a non-issue," Lauren says.

A representative from Manatee County denies that any county representative ever gave the Przybylas the go ahead to build the structure. The county says that if the couple doesn't comply by combining parcels or moving the playhouse by January, then a hearing will be scheduled in front of a Manatee County magistrate.