Originally published February 28 2014
Orwellian nightmare becomes reality for Florida woman after judge declares living 'off the grid' illegal
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) A Florida woman who successfully converted the utilities in her house from city water and electricity from the local power company to rainwater and solar panels is being punished for her innovative efforts to live "off the grid," which a local magistrate recently declared to be illegal and in violation of local code ordinances.
Though he admitted that the regulations are redundant and unreasonable, Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin ruled that Robin Speronis, a 54-year-old former real estate agent currently living in Cape Coral, is violating city code, not to mention the International Property Maintenance Code, by generating and supplying her own water and electricity from natural elements rather than public utilities.
"Reasonableness and code requirements don't always go hand-in-hand," stated Eskin, insinuating his own disagreement with the outrageous rules. Nevertheless, he insists that he is required to enforce them, "whether I want to or not."
Government has no right to force individuals onto the grid, says self-sufficiency advocate According to Off The Grid News, Speronis has been fighting the city of Cape Coral since November, when a code enforcement officer first showed up at her door and actually tried to evict her from her own property for not using public utilities. Speronis contends that relying on nature for sustenance is her personal choice, and that the city is violating her rights by trying to force her onto the grid.
"I am in compliance," Speronis stated to the News-Press about the saga. "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?"
For the past year, Speronis has relied on solar energy and rainwater to power her small duplex located in the heart of Cape Coral. Her off-the-grid lifestyle also includes using a small camp stove to cook, a number of propane lamps to generate light and heat and even a camping shower hooked up to a rainwater tank for bathing.
Conflicting code requirements outdated, need to be abolishedSperonis, who is a vocal advocate of colloidal silver for health and healing, admits that she still uses the public sewer system for water waste but says she really has no need for public water or electricity. Even so, with the exception of a few alleged violations that were thrown out due to her not receiving proper notice, the city is insistent that Speronis comply with its demands.
"It was a mental fistfight," says Todd Allen, Speronis' lawyer who has agreed to represent her pro bono. "There's an inherent conflict in the code."
This conflict mainly arises from an outdated Cape Coral ordinance that requires homes located within a certain vicinity of municipal water to at least connect to the system, whether they use it or not. The original intent of this provision was to prohibit the use of water wells where public water is available, a limitation that the city is now applying to rainwater collection.
"The entire point seems to be to discourage an interesting lifestyle that's independent of city systems," writes J.D. Tuccille for Reason.com about the situation. "Restrictive, mindless, rules like those with which Speronis is threatened are a menace to both independence and innovation. But that's how government officials roll."
Meanwhile, Speronis is standing strong in her refusal to bow to the city's demands, even though she now has liens on her property for unpaid fines associated with her "violations." Speronis can still appeal the judge's decision, however, which would allow her a stay on compliance.
"We're in the preliminary stages of all this," Speronis told the News-Press. "We have a long, long road to go. I'm sure justice will prevail."
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