Huntsville man found guilty of zoning violation for off-the-grid home

Published: Nov. 3, 2015 at 8:42 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2015 at 8:42 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A jury found a Huntsville man guilty of violating a city zoning ordinance Tuesday after his off-the-grid home caught the attention of city officials.

Tyler Truitt and his girlfriend, Soraya Hamar, live in a trailer inside city limits. City officials say zoning ordinances prohibit trailers from being set up in Huntsville unless they are in designated areas.

"We live out here off the grid, 100 percent self-sustaining," Truitt said in June. "So I basically made all my utilities: I have my solar panels, I have my rainwater collection and stuff. " 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."

Judge O'Dell was clear Tuesday the jury was only deciding whether or not Truitt was violating the city ordinance. He said the jury was not deciding whether or not the ordinance was fair.

Truitt's attorney argued he wasn't bothering anyone and was even making the neighborhood safer. One neighbor testified the lot used to be empty before Truitt bought the property. She said that before Truitt moved in, the lot used to be a place where homeless people would gather.

Prosecutors said the case was simple - Truitt bought the property, brought a trailer into the property, and violated city ordinance.

"There was a strong chance we might get this outcome; it's always very difficult when you're fighting a city ordinance," Truitt said Tuesday. "The judge only allowed us to enter very specific arguments and very specific evidence, so a lot of things I would have admitted into evidence, we weren't able to do that."

Truitt now has 14 days to remove the trailer from his property. He was also placed on probation for six months. If he violates his probation or does not remove the trailer within the allotted time, he will have to serve ten days in jail. He can also be charged with a separate offense for every day the trailer stays on the property.

Truitt, who is a veteran, says his next step is to file a civil suit claiming his constitutional rights are being violated.

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