Constitutional Law

Is Toilet Planter Trash? Legal Showdown Looms in Clash Over City Cleanup Plan

What municipal officials in Lakemoor, Ill., consider trash is personal art as far as Tina Asmus is concerned. And she’s hired a lawyer to make a federal case out of the issue.

Specifically, the potential constitutional clash concerns the two toilet planters she has placed outside her home. With a tank featuring a drawn-on face and a coiffure of hostas growing out of the top, the one featured in a photo in the Northwest Herald is clearly no ordinary junked toilet.

But the village says it is just as much a nuisance as an abandoned car or too-tall grass and has notified Asmus that she will be fined if she doesn’t remove the potty planter. In response, she has retained a lawyer and says she plans to fight any such citation, the newspaper recounts.

Her attorney, George Kililis, says the municipal ordinance being applied is vague and overbroad. Village President Todd Weihofen says he just wants to keep Lakemoor looking good. If need be, he says, officials will rewrite the ordinance so that Asmus has to follow the same cleanup rules as other residents.

“I understand that everyone doesn’t share my taste,” Asmus tells the Herald. “But it’s my property and I pay taxes on it, so I should be able to display what I want in it.”

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