NORTH MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - The treehouse that a South Florida woman had called home for over nearly two decades is coming down because, she said, mounting fines from the county are forcing her to move out.
Speaking with 7News on Thursday, Shawnee Chasser said she wants as few barriers as possible separating her from nature.
“I’ve always lived outdoors. For me, it’s the only way to live,” she said. “I have to hear the rain and the wind at night. If I don’t, I go crazy, and I’m claustrophobic.”
For the past 17 years, Chasser’s tree house up high and the living room and kitchen below have been her sanctuary — for her, her children and her grandchildren.
“When it rains, we go dance in the rain,” she said.
But when it rains, it pours.
In 2015, there was a complaint about her property in North Miami-Dade that got Code Enforcement involved. They determined her living situation was not safe, and it needed to be torn down or brought up to code.
Chasser did neither, and currently, she said, $40,000 in fines have taken root.
“It’s always in the back of my head. Half the time I don’t sleep,” she said. “I don’t need to lose sleep over that. I can lose sleep over other things.”
After seven years of battling with the county, Chasser has finally taken it into her own hands to knock down her beloved former bedroom, her kitchen, her living room, and her current bedroom.
A bedroom she only built a year ago.
“My legs are very bad, so I built the Tiki hut thinking I’ll be in it forever and ever,” she said, “and if you look at it, it’s the most beautiful bedroom in the whole world.”
Come Monday, Sept. 18, Chasser’s paradise will meet its demise. She will start the painful process of tearing it down.
“I’m not a fighter, you know? I fought against the Vietnam War,” she said. “I’m done fighting, and I just want peace.”
Chasser said she knows she faces a long road ahead of her, but she plans to build a new, code-compliant treehouse whenever she has the plans set.
She has also set up a GoFundMe page to help with the fines. If you would like to make a donation, click here.
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