Judge sides with potty planter fan

WOODSTOCK – A Lakemoor woman's toilets will be filled with hostas and lilies again this summer as she successfully challenged a village ordinance in court.

Tina Asmus was fined $25 in June 2009 after police said she violated Lakemoor's public nuisance ordinance by using two toilets and a sink as flower planters outside her home. One of the toilets also had "God bless my neighbors" written on it, as well as a smiley face.

She said the toilets now have poinsettias in them.

While McHenry County Judge Michael Caldwell said today that the planters were "not something that appeal" to him, he cited his decades of experience as a village attorney to say the ordinance was not designed to apply in instances like this. Instead, it was meant to stop old, nonfunctional cars from sitting in driveways and prohibit unauthorized scrap metal recycling yards.

"It isn't necessarily aimed at Tina Asmus and her plumbing fixtures," Caldwell said.

Asmus' attorney, George Kililis, had argued that the gardening arrangement was creative expression and that it was protected under her First Amendment rights. It was neither a threat to safety nor gravely offensive, he said.

"It may be that some of [her neighbors] don't like it," Kililis said. "But frankly, that's their problem."

He said it was never about the money, although Asmus could have faced daily fines.

"I feel like they have given my freedom back," Asmus said.