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People Top 5
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- November 20, 1978
- Vol. 10
- No. 21
A House Is Not a Home, a Florida Town Says, If It's Built in a Tree
City officials, alas, disagree. Building inspectors say McLean's lofty retreat is a fire hazard, and could easily tumble down in a hurricane. They have ordered him to remove it. McLean shrugs off neighbors' objections to the tree house and vows to appeal the building department's order. "They knew it was here three years ago," he protests. "If they were going to make me tear it down, they should have done it before I put all this time and money into it."
McLean lives in the tree full-time except for meals, when he joins his parents and two sisters below. Though he admits his rough-hewn aerie could use a new roof and another lick of paint on the outside, he insists that the structure is sound, if not burglarproof. His stereo was recently stolen, and McLean was arrested for smashing a car he thought belonged to the thief. "I'm staying out of trouble now," he says. "There's always something to do up here." He hopes eventually to install a bathroom and an elevator. "I've put a lot of imagination into this," he says plaintively, "and I don't want to lose it. It's art, really."
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