A Cape Coral, Florida woman living “off the grid” was ordered last week by a magistrate to hook up to utilities to comply with city codes or risk eviction from her home.
Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin ruled Thursday that Robin
Speronis violated city codes by refusing to connect to the Cape
Coral’s water system. Eskin ordered Speronis to pay for water
service, adding that her sewer access would be capped until she
did, The News-Press reported.
“I am in compliance,” Speronis told the News-Press.
“I’m in compliance of living … you may have to hook-up, but
you don’t have to use it. Well, what’s the point?”
In addition, her alternative source of energy must be approved by
the city, Eskin ruled. The city contends that using rainwater and
solar energy violates the International Property Maintenance
Code, which is used in many US and Canadian communities. It
“states that properties are unsafe to live in if they do not
have electricity and running water,” according to Off The
Grid News, though Speronis has both electricity and water.
Eskin also pointed out that several liens were placed on her home
given Speronis had used drains but without paying water bills.
“This resident provided testimony at the code compliance
hearing that she has been living in the home for the past year
and using the city’s wastewater system without paying for the
service,” said Connie Barron, a spokeswoman for Cape Coral.
Yet the Magistrate said the city abused its authority by not
giving Speronis proper notice of the supposed violations.
Speronis was given an eviction notice in November.
City spokeswoman Barron said the sewer would have been capped
sooner, but the city decided to wait for the code hearing. The
city had actually overlooked Speronis’ setup until she did an
interview with a local television station regarding her living
Eskin did admit, though, that the city’s code may be obsolete.
“Reasonableness and code requirements don’t always go
hand-in-hand … given societal and technical changes (that)
requires review of code ordinances,” said Eskin, who
actually dropped two of three counts against Speronis.
Speronis’ attorney posited that there’s a conflict in the city’s
code, given Speronis has been ordered to hook up to the water
system despite city officials’ admittance that she does not have
to use it.
“It was a mental fistfight,” Speronis’ attorney Todd
Allen said of Eskin’s review of the case. “There’s an
inherent conflict in the code.”
For her part, Speronis said she does not intend to hook up to the
city’s water system, vowing to appeal the Magistrate’s ruling.
“I know how to live off the grid completely and in a sanitary
way,” Speronis said in response to the city’s action,
according to The News-Press. “That’s what seven months living
in the woods taught me. I do have an alternative toilet from my
days of living in the woods.”
The Cape Coral resident said she will dispose of waste just as
dog owners do for pets. She also plans to collect wastewater in
containers for use in her garden.
Speronis already collects rainwater for bathing and other uses,
all while generating electricity with solar panels.
“What happens in the courtroom is much less important than
touching people’s hearts and minds,” she told Off The Grid
News. “I think that we are continuing to be successful in
doing just that and I am so pleased — there is hope! [Friday]
morning, as I took my two hour walk, there was a young man,
unknown to me, who drove by me, tooted his horn and said, ‘Robin,
congratulations on your victory yesterday, keep up the fight and
God bless you.’ That is beautiful.”
Article source: http://rt.com/usa/florida-woman-private-utilities-735/