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Florida court rules off-the-grid living is illegal

Florida court rules off-the-grid living is illegal

February 26, 2014 - Living off the grid is illegal in Cape Coral, Florida, according to a court ruling Thursday.

Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin ruled that the city's codes allow Robin Speronis to live without utility power but she is still required to hook her home to the city's water system. Her alternative source of power must be approved by the city, Eskin said.

As previously reported in Off The Grid News, Speronis has been fighting the city of Cape Coral since November when a code enforcement officer tried to evict her from her home for living without utilities. The city contends that Speronis violated the International Property Maintenance Code by relying on rain water instead of the city water system and solar panels instead of the electric grid.

"It was a mental fistfight," Speronis' attorney Todd Allen said of Eskin's review of his clients' case. "There's an inherent conflict in the code."

Part of the conflict: She must hook up to the water system, although officials acknowledge she does not have to use it.

Speronis told Off The Grid News in February she hopes to win her case and set a precedent for others in her situation. After court Thursday, Speronis told Off The Grid News that she actually won on two of three counts, although she acknowledged her legal battle is far from over.

"But what happens in the courtroom is much less important than touching people's hearts and minds," she said. "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."

(Editor's note: Hear our earlier interview with Robin Speronis here.)

Eskin spent several hours reviewing the case and admitted that the code might be obsolete, the local Press-News newspaper reported.

"Reasonableness and code requirements don't always go hand-in-hand ... given societal and technical changes (that) requires review of code ordinances," Eskin was quoted as saying.

Eskin's remarks indicate that he views the code as both obsolete and unreasonable and in need of change. Yet he felt he had to enforce it.

The city did overstep its authority and may have violated due process procedures, Eskin noted. He felt that the city had not given Speronis proper notice of violations and ruled that some of the charges against her were unfounded.

"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?"

Speronis disconnected all the utilities from her modest home in Cape Coral for an experiment in off-the-grid living some time ago. City officials ignored her activities until she went public and discussed them with Liza Fernandez, a reporter for a local TV station. A code enforcement officer designated Speronis's home as uninhabitable and gave her an eviction notice a day after the piece aired.

The widow and former real estate agent now has two choices. She can either restore her hookup to the water system by the end of March or appeal Eskin's ruling to the courts.

It is not known what action the city will take but city officials told Fernandez that they would be willing to let Speronis stay in her home if conditions are "sanitary." At the hearing, Eskin noted that city officials have not actually been in Speronis's home to make that determination.

The International Property Maintenance Code is used in communities throughout the United States and Canada. The code states that properties are unsafe to live in if they do not have electricity and running water. Speronis has electricity and water. She gets running water by collecting rainwater and electricity from solar panels.

Sources and more information:

Florida woman forced to use city utilities instead of private solar panels, rainwater

Florida - Court Rules Robin Speronis' Off-The-Grid Living Is Illegal - I talked with the city - it is all about money - Vincent Finelli

Florida woman forced to use city utilities instead of private solar panels, rainwater

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  • Nailedskully#

    Nailedskully wrote March 10, 2014 6:15:31 AM CET

    They are making her hook up to water and power so they can charge her a monthly 'maintenance fee'. I haven't used any natural gas for five years since I got an electric water heater, but the utility company bills me eight bucks a month just to keep the meter in my yard.

  • fayebrown965928#

    fayebrown965928 wrote February 27, 2014 8:53:20 PM CET

    This world has destroyed the independency of those that once lived off the land .. they want people totally dependant on their ill-gotten-money system … if they allowed one off the grid many more would follow … when you decide to live off the grid you become an enemy of the State … but then you have scripture that says “if you are a friend of this world, you are an enemy of God” … I thank the CREATOR that my soul is free .. and as I do my best to live by these oppressing laws of this reality .. I look for the day I walk the ‘Eden land’ where all electricity and all things are provided FREELY by powers and technology empowered by the CREATOR … and where my soul and body are no longer physically bound to any land .. I look to the stars as my home

  • DmoniX_The_Destroyer#

    DmoniX_The_Destroyer wrote February 27, 2014 7:48:20 PM CET

    Of course it is Illegal. The United states and the ground and air above and below are OWNED by the United States and that goes for ALL Country's of the World. If you think otherwise, you're only fooling yourself and anyone else you try to get to believe that if you "own your own land", you can do "whatever" you want.
    We are not a "free" species and we most likely never will be.

  • larascott89#

    larascott89 wrote February 27, 2014 5:30:07 PM CET

    Isaiah. I agree that Mary`s st0ry is terrific... on saturday I got Renault 4 from having made $9013 this past month and over ten-grand last month. this is actually my favourite-job I've had. I actually started 5 months ago and right away started to make minimum $84... per hour. you could try here


  • Phoenix rising #

    Phoenix rising wrote February 27, 2014 4:33:38 PM CET

    So I guess its also against the law in that state to build a house that is not connected to these services, its just fucking stupid bullshit oppressive nazi state laws

  • Doctor of ?#

    Doctor of ? wrote February 27, 2014 7:13:23 AM CET

    So where do the homeless fall into this???

  • properREDeye#

    properREDeye wrote February 26, 2014 10:57:17 PM CET

    The idea is to make being independent from the state seem as impossible as they can, they must find any way possible to enslave with their debt
    They do a bad job well

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