Cape woman living "off the grid" challenged by city

by George Solis

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A Cape Coral woman refuses to use city power and water. But now, she has a month to "plug in" or face the consequences.

It's a lifestyle some can only afford to dream of living.

"If I could figure out how to do it, I would probably do it to," said Cape Coral resident Slyvia Lavandier.

Robin Speronis figured out how to do it more than a year and a half ago.

"I'm choosing to live without being dependent on the system," said Speronis.

Speronis is living "off the grid" as she describes it.

"I never have to worry about that bill coming in," said Speronis.

No city power or water running through her house walls. Instead, she uses solar panels and treated rain water for survival.

It's a way of life that's she says is being challenged by city code enforcement.

"When this was brought to my attention I felt like I had to act. I felt like Cape Coral was intruding in the woman's lifestyle," said Todd Allen, Speronis' Attorney.

Allen took Speronis' case on for free.

On Thursday during a special hearing, the two sides met to discuss the legality of her living arrangements.

There a special magistrate ruled Speronis was not guilty of not having a proper sewer or electrical system; but was guilty of not being hooked up to an approved water supply.

"What happened here is people don't talk to us or cooperate. We don't communicate then we are forced to use the legal tools at our disposal," said Frank Cassidy with Cape Coral Code Compliance.

City code officials say this isn't a case of singling out an individual, but making sure everyone follows the rules.

"In the whole scheme of things, its no different than the hundreds of cases we deal with all the time," said Cassidy.

Speronis now has a month to comply -- though she has no intention of giving in.

"I don't have to justify my life. They have to. That's the way our system of justice works. They have justify it. I don't" Speronis said.



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