The fight of Cape Coral, Florida resident Robin Speronis to live “off the grid” has escalated with the city’s recent decision to cap her access to the sewer so she can no longer use it. It’s a move she calls, “pure evil.”
Since November 2013, WFTX Fox 4 has reported on Ms. Speronis’ ongoing battle with the city to live without most utilities. The self-sufficient woman has lived for more than a year-and-a-half using solar energy, a propane camping stove, rain water, and eating mainly non-perishable food. However, the day after the station’s first profile of her lifestyle Speronis’ home was tagged by the city code enforcement with a notice to vacate.
The story of her plight spread and many rallied around Speronis’ cause sending Cape Coral officials complaints in support of the woman. WFTX reported that the city clarified that, “…municipalities don’t have the power to evict,” and that the notice was placed because they, “…merely [wanted] access to the home to provide suggestion so Speronis can live off the grid in Cape Coral.” After that incident, Speronis told the station, “Cape Coral needs to be afraid of me, I’m not afraid of them.”
In January attorney Todd Allen, who agreed to represent Speronis pro-bono, was served with a five-page amended violation notice that cited international property maintenance code and city ordinances. Allen said that the two sets of codes are not clear, "What is a private water system? That's not defined in either code. But if one code accepts it, then they shouldn’t, the other shouldn't negate the ability to have one."
Last week, Speronis appeared before Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin and was found not guilty of violating city codes requiring a proper electrical and sewer system. Though, Speronis was found guilty of violating a code requiring an approved water supply. Eskin ordered that she hook-up to the cityutilities. In response Speronis told WFTX and The News-Press, “That doesn’t make common sense. So why would I do that? Why would I hook, hook up to the city water and then not use it?”
Also discussed at the special hearing was the fact that Speronis had been using the sewer system for the past year yet not paying for the service amassing a past due bill in the thousands. After her testimony admitting that she had used the service without paying for it, the city decided to cap the sewer line. Connie Barron, Cape Coral spokesperson told The News-Press, “She also gave clear indications she does not intend to pay for this service but intends to continue to use the system. We really had no choice but to cap the sewer.”
Speronis’ time living on the grid hasn’t gone so well for her either. As reported by the Cape Coral Daily Breeze , in June 2011, she plead no content to larceny, and was sentenced to 10 years of state probation and ordered to pay $32,000 in restitution. In January 2012, she had her real estate license revoked following a second complaint that she had not returned a $3,500 deposit following a failed condo sale.
The magistrates order takes effect on March 28 however Speronis says that her attorney can stay the decision during the appeal process. Speronis seems to stands firm on her decision to live off the grid and said that she had a way to do without the sewer system in a sanitary fashion.