I’ve always admired people who managed to live off the grid, providing their own power, water, sanitation, etc. I’ve even looked into it myself in the past, wishing that I had had the opportunity to buy some acreage, provide my own power via solar panels, geothermal and even wind turbines, along with using rain catchment and possibly a well or nearby stream. A septic tank or leach field are efficient ways to handle sewage. Then grow many of my own fruits and vegetables along with raising chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows, enough to feed the family without depleting the number of livestock, yet fortune never shined on me that way.
I did know a rancher in southeastern Arizona who lived totally off the grid. His ranch house was two-foot-thick adobe blocks with strategically placed ventilation holes to the outside. His house was always comfortable, cool in the summer and warm in the winter. He had no electricity at the time except for a diesel generator which he only ran when necessary. He raised cattle enough to provide for the family and sell to others, making enough money to see their other needs. I always envied him living out away from town and totally self-sufficient.
But what about someone trying to live off the grid within city limits? Would the city allow it or would they find some lame and unbending ordinance to force them to attach to the city infrastructure?
Tyler Truitt of Huntsville, Alabama found out that his city doesn’t like the idea of someone living in the city limits and not paying the city for services he wasn’t using. Truitt is a veteran who says he fought for his country and the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
He believed that he was exercising his freedoms when he bought an empty lot within Huntsville city limits. The neighbors say that before Truitt bought the property, it used to be a gathering place for homeless people which they didn’t want in their neighborhood.
Truitt then purchased a mobile home and put it on the property. He bought enough solar panels to provide enough electricity for his and his girlfriend’s basic needs. He built a rain catchment system that provided them with enough water. Truitt was living off the grid, saving the money he would have to otherwise pay out to the city for his utilities.
Last year, the city of Huntsville notified Truitt that he was guilty of a zoning ordinance by having his trailer on the property. Huntsville ordinances only allow mobile homes in designated areas and his was not one of them. None of his neighbors complained, especially since no one could see the trailer from the road. When Truitt refused to move his mobile home the city took him court where he was found guilty of violating the city ordinance. Truitt commented then, saying:
“We live out here off the grid, 100 percent self-sustaining. So I basically made all my utilities: I have my solar panels, I have my rainwater collection and stuff. I took an oath that I would support and defend the constitution and the freedoms that entails, and I really feel like those are being trampled upon.”
The court gave him 14 days to remove his trailer from the property and placed him on 6 months of probation. Truitt appealed the court’s ruling. This past week, the Alabama Court of Appeals denied Truitt’s appeal, leaving the disheartened veteran with 14 days to move the trailer of face jail time.
The city claims their lawsuit has nothing to do with Truitt living off the grid, rather it has everything to do with the ordinance banning a mobile home on that piece of property.
Evidently, the city isn’t interested in granting an allowance on that one piece of property. They don’t care that the trailer isn’t visible from the road and they don’t seem to care that many of his neighbors would much prefer him living there than countless homeless people who are more apt to trash the property and who knows what else.
I wonder if the city would have gone after Truitt if he had tapped into the city utilities and paid them his monthly due? They may say no, but Truitt believes otherwise and wonders about the freedoms he fought to protect.