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Home Forums General Discussion Question about going offgrid

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    Is going off grid permitted on zoned residential lot?

    Say a person buys some ‘rough” land, and one puts a cottage or home on it, is it necessary to inform the town of what one intends to do ( composting, no grid electric, etc.).

    Thank you. I realize my questions are elementary.


    Most likely not.

    One place I lived at long ago, the area was originally rural then cottages appeared because of the nearby lake. Soon an enterprising owner of a good well ( nice clean good tasting water) provided private pipeing system for water. At some point the area was full of cottages and people began winterizing them to live in year round as a low cost retirement home. Fifty years later the septic beds or just plain 55 gallon drums in the ground not to mention outhouses caused real sanitation problems every time it rained.

    By this time people petitioned to make this rural ‘cottage’ area a real village and then . . .

    Eventually sanitation sewers, and real power poles were brought in. The township decreed that in fairness to all; every lot owner had to pay an equal share of the sewage system so whether or not you hooked up you paid the frontage charge for sewers and water and electricity. I knew someone who did live off grid there with an outhouse and kerosene lights just like they had done since before the war. But they had to pay the frontage charge like everybody else. After all they reaped the benefit of the lot increasing in value from $50 back then to $25,000 now. All of it done without making a single improvement to the property.

    The place was an eye sore, with stagnant cesspool water which was a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the smell was enough to make you gag at times. The water ponding over flowed onto a public walkway turning it into a mud wallow and prevented public movement unless you wore boots. The alternative was a quarter mile detour for kids going to school. In situations like that being off grid really was a nuisance to neighbors. The guy eventually moved to the Yukon ‘cuz he didn’t like people. So where does individual rights stop and civic responsibility begin. Was it fair for him to impose his cheap skate living conditions onto neighboring properties. He was just looking for cheap housing because he inherited the place from his grandfather. Never paid a cent himself but liked it when he made many thousands of $$ because of rising property values.

    Because of him and a few others, the township eventually formulated some rules that prohibited some things like erecting a shack on an empty lot and squatting there. Public health insisted on proper sanitation disposal and also prevention of stagnant ponds the were breeding grounds for mosquitoes. That kind of thing. If you chose to use kerosene lights instead of electric lights fine but don’t expect to run a genset that is noisy. And don’t expect the neighbor to cut down his shade trees because it prevented you from using solar panels or getting wind for a turbine.

    If your place is big enough that you are out of sight – out of mind most likely there are fewer rules. Sanitation is the exception. Dumping raw sewage can percolate into the ground water and ruin everybodys well water.


    Thank you for that.

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