City’s Health Board Says Man Can Keep Decorative Portable Toilets On His Property

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Your neighbors might not like it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plunk a few brightly-colored, non-working portable toilets on your property, at least in one Massachusetts town.

Williamsburg, MA’s health board decided in favor of a man who has two decorative toilets stationed next to his driveway, reports the Daily Hampshire Gazette, despite the protestations of a neighbor who uses an easement on his property to access her home.

She and others had asked the city for help removing the portable toilets, citing a state law that says: “In no event may a privy be located within 30 feet of any building used for sleeping or eating or any lot line or street.”

But that doesn’t apply when the toilets are just for decoration, Health Agent Valerie Bird said at the beginning of the meeting, reiterating the board’s previous finding: the toilets aren’t in use, don’t contain any chemicals, have no place to sit inside, don’t include urinals, and are screwed shut, so they don’t qualify as privies, but as sani-cans or chemical toilets.

A privy, for that matter, is a “structure used for the disposal of human waste without water transport consisting of a shelter built over an unlined pit or vault in the ground into which waste is deposited,” according to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

“This is not a privy. It is a sani-can or a chemical toilet, and the Board of Health does not regulate chemical toilets,” Bird said. “I have called around to other towns, and they don’t regulate chemical toilets either.”

The man who owns the toilets says his neighbors’ efforts have amounted to an “epic fail,” sticking to his view that the graffiti-covered structures are just “empty fiberglass shells” that he finds “decorative.”

“We like this stuff. It may be an eyesore, but it is not a health hazard,” he said. “If they are legal, they are going to stay there.”

Williamsburg board says ‘decorative’ porta-potties can stay [Daily Hampshire Gazette]

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