The Florida woman facing eviction from her own home for living an off-the-grid life now has two powerful allies – a major civil liberties firm and the state of Florida.
Robin Speronis is battling the city of Cape Coral, Fla., for the right to live self-sustainably without city electricity and water, and she won a partial court victory in February when a state judge said she did not have to be hooked up to city power. She was celebrating her small victory when, hours later, the city dug a hole in her yard and capped her sewer line.
As it turns out, the city’s action violated state law.
State officials told WFTX-4 that the city had created what is called a “sanitary nuisance” by capping her sewer, which is against state law.
State official McKinley Lewis told the station that the state Department of Health “does view capping of a sewer line to an occupied residence as creation of a sanitary nuisance under chapter 386 FS.”
Ironically, it is the city that first reported Speronis to the state, filing a health complaint against her because she was disposing of her waste in non-traditional manners. The state investigator, though, found no “animal or human waste” in her yard, the TV station reported.
The state, though, says it won’t take action against the city because the capping of the sewer is not a significant enough health hazard. Nevertheless, Speronis’ attorneys now have a powerful ally – state law — as they seek to get the city to reconnect the sewer.
The city charges Speronis $70 each month for a combined sewer and water bill, even though she now is using neither. Cape Coral says she owes $4,000 in unpaid sewer/water bills, but she says she should not have to pay for a service she does not use.
Speronis told Off The Grid News that in recent weeks she has been thinking a lot about her late husband, who died four years ago. They met in 1976.
“He gave me such a great life while he was alive and I am so grateful and so, especially these last couple of weeks, I feel that I want to honor him by giving my best to assure that justice is served in this case,” she said.
Her case appears headed to federal court after the Rutherford Institute — a nationally known civil liberties legal organization — got involved in early March. The case could set a precedent for off-the-gridders nationwide.
“The application of these burdensome rules, regulations, and inspection requirements against individuals attempting to live independent and environmentally sustainable lifestyles sends the wrong message: that citizens must be dependent on the state, whether or not they wish to be,” said John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute. “This case is emblematic of a growing problem in America today, namely, that bureaucrats and local governments will go to great lengths to perpetuate dependence and compliance with the nanny state.”
Speronis uses solar panels for electricity and collects rainwater for water. She cooks on a propane stove and keeps clean with a camping shower. She uses an alternative toilet system.
“I couldn’t be more pleased or feel more blessed to have such a powerful defender of liberty on my side,” she told Off The Grid News, referencing the Rutherford Institute. Todd Allen, the attorney who has represented her in recent months, will continue defending her alongside the Rutherford Institute. “We can now let the Rutherford Institute do what it does best and let it take the old order down. With our experience and innovation, the off-grid community is now in a great position to create a beautiful new order as the old order goes down. Whatever we focus on we get more of — so let’s focus on the beautiful new world to come.”
What do you think? Do you support the city’s actions or Robin? Let us know in the comments below.