Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Man and His Potty

The old expression, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” certainly applies in the context of code enforcement proceedings. In Oak Ridge, a week or so ago, a local homeowner named William Terry, was cited to court for a code violation because he had a planter made out of an old toilet filled with plants and potting soil. Terry contends that the toilet is an antique and a good way to recycle materials which would otherwise wind up in the landfill. City codes officials (and presumably some of his neighbors) seem to disagree. Katherine Baldwin, the city director of community development, said that “toilets are not something that people typically like to look at.” She said the city had launched a campaign to clean up unsightly areas.

The city officials and Mr. Terry squabbled over dictionary definitions of rubbish and toilets. The city attorney pointed out that according to Webster’s dictionary, a toilet is not a flower pot. Mr. Terry responded by pointing out that it didn’t fit the definition of rubbish either because it had been recycled and was not useless waste. The city judge observed that the codes enforcement officials always brought him interesting cases.

A week or two after the hearing in city court, the city judge ruled in favor of Mr. Terry, concluding that the city’s definition of “rubbish,” was so broad as to encompass virtually all types of planters within the city. As a result, finding that the definition was overbroad, the city judge ruled that Mr. Terry could keep his garden potty.

Mr. Terry said he was surprised at the amount of publicity his case received. Now, he said, "I might get two toilets and put them beside what you could call my driveway.''

Click here to  see Mr. Terry stating his case from the Knoxville News Journal.

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