Man flush with victory as court OKs use of toilet as yard flowerpot

Mar 31 2011 - 1:32pm

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. -- A man cited by the city over an old toilet he converted into a flowerpot and put in his front yard has won his day in court.

Oak Ridge City Judge Robert McNees Thursday dismissed the city's citation against William Terry that contended the toilet was rubbish.

"That is so awesome," Terry said of the judge's ruling. "I think it's absolutely wonderful for flowerpots everywhere."

McNees found that the city code's definition of rubbish "is so broad that it could apply to most containers and thus overbroad for the purpose of including Mr. Terry's commode."

"A city can enact ordinances based purely on aesthetic considerations but must do so in a way that its citizens can understand," the judge ruled.

The judge in his order also applauded the city's "actions in trying to enforce its ordinances and clean up its neighborhoods ..."

City officials last winter sent Terry a notice that his toilet, which at that time included a broken reservoir, violated the city's property maintenance code.

"It's all an interpretation of who is right," city code enforcement supervisor Denny Boss said Thursday.

Terry removed the broken reservoir and appealed the notice.

After the city overruled his appeal, Terry was cited in court. He came armed last week with photos he had taken of unsightly planters and eyesores in other parts of the city.

"The people of this country are tired of Big Brother or the government stepping on their toes and trying to enforce their will upon them," Terry said Thursday.

He 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."

Bob Fowler is a reporter for The Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee.


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