Man to be Evicted from Camper - Tiny House Blog

Man to be Evicted from Camper

Unfortunately, living simply on your own land is not an option in Madison County, Indiana. 72-year-old Dick Thompson isn’t sure if he wants to fight or give up.

Thompson faces eviction from his 38 acres in Madison County. The county lawyer tells 24-Hour News 8 it’s because Thompson is breaking too many rules, laws and ordinances; Thompson has no water, no sewer and no electricity in his recreational trailer that he calls home.

Source: Brad Edwards – WishTV8

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F H - December 2, 2010 Reply

Indiana has a large Mennonite community. Some of them must be old-order folks who live just fine without electricity, kinda like the Amish. Perhaps he can get in touch with someone in this community to figure out what he needs to do to live simply and get the county lawyer to leave him alone.

allen robertson - December 2, 2010 Reply

Yeah he’s got 36 acres and he’s a health hazard? If he goes to the bathroom on his 36 acres he’s posing a health threat to the whole county? He’s not posing a health risk to anyone.If he simply digs a little hole and takes his dump there and then covers it up, all will be fine. After all it is 36 acres we’re talking about. He isn’t living on an eighth of an acre parcel, in the middle of a town, right next to neighbors. If the county used a little common sense they’d realize that. He is obviously fine and just wants to be left alone. What the hell is the matter with this country? That county government has forgotten the meaning of freedom.

mike - December 2, 2010 Reply

Stupid news. Why don’t they explain exactly what the bare minimum is that he would need to do to stay. It has to just be a septic system. Why would having no electricity matter to anyone?

miranda - December 2, 2010 Reply

1 person and his legal livestock on 38 acres in Madison County??? Even if his aceage was in city limits we are talking 38 ACRES and he is the OWNER, not a squatter or renter. And for the counties information, his legal livestock produces more fecal matter than this 1 man.
This is insane or some land developer has made a deal with the county. Follow the money. Why aren’t his nieghbors standing up for this man? They are next.

Laurie - December 2, 2010 Reply

This is so sad. Our government has gotten too big and are meddling where they have no business. I hope he can get this resolved.

Drue - December 2, 2010 Reply

Likely he’s a hazard to no one. Do they ticket bears, deer, and rabbits for their contamination of the environment with “inhuman” waste?

Worth an investigation to see what are the minimum requirements and attempt to comply if it isn’t ridiculous.

A bit of country wisdom for the county officials. This came from my mom when I was little, “Don’t be so critical of others, dear. You might just be looking at your future.”

Indeed, the more of our liberties we lose, the more attractive a trailer and undeveloped plot of land become to me.

    Josh - December 2, 2010 Reply

    I’m sure there’s some sort of ordinance that says that there’s some requirement for a septic system for permanent residences, and I’m sure it’s obvious to all that he’s not on a weekend camping trip. I absolutely agree though that it’s absurd to worry about the biological waste from one person on 36 acres of land. It would surely pale in comparison to the waste from the wildlife living on the property, not to mention his livestock.

    I wish they gave more information on exactly what the violations are. I suppose the case could be made that he’s somehow in danger by living without electricity and running water in what appears to be a piece of junk. It looks pretty cold there; I can’t imagine that trailer is well insulated. I suppose some of the violations might be regulations that are designed to keep people safe(?). I could see a future news story describing how this 70+ year-old man froze to death in his under-equipped and under-insulated trailer.

      Trish - December 3, 2010 Reply

      Mr Thompson HAS electrity. See that A/C in the back window –he probably runs it off a generator. For heat and cooking, that Shasta is propane-equipped.

      Insulated is all a matter of do-it-yourself, as so many of RV owners have to improve heating & cooling efficiency in our rigs.

      Waste –Neither a sawdust compostable toilet nor simple pit toilet cause “health risks.”

      1 mini horse and 1 dog aren’t livestock.
      A bird? Eww, but hey, he likes it.

      Yesterday, I called Bill Maxwell, who’s the Planning Officer for Madison. He told me that O-N-E neighbor complained.

      Who wants to bet that single neighbor has his /her /its eye on 36 acres of prime, undeveloped property?

        Josh - December 3, 2010 Reply

        It appears (from the video) that he has more than just the small horse. I believe it also says he has a dump truck and a wagon parked out there. I’m sure to anyone driving by it looks like a bunch of junk parked out in a field – the makings of a future junk yard.

        As far as the issue of waste, electricity, etc. – we don’t know what violations are prompting this action. The story points out that he is in violation of multiple laws, and that he has no running water, electricity, or septic system. It does not, however, state that not having those are violations of the law. It might be a little deceptive wording on the part of the story writer. It may very well be that the violations stem from the “junk” that is parked in what is supposed to be an agricultural field (that’s how it’s zoned).

jeff - December 2, 2010 Reply

Any chance the forum could have a section that archived this sort of story?
I’m sure people looking to buy land might take a note that Madison County Indiana maybe ought not be their first choice.

LEE - December 2, 2010 Reply

Welcome to the land of the free-void where prohibited.

Mary Ann - December 2, 2010 Reply

What is wrong with the county minding its own business? Because they can’t get much money out of this property. I look at it as harassment. He is a senior citizen, not harming anyone. Throughout the US, there are lots of people like this, who own outback property, who might have electricity, a well and not much else. Outhouses are still in use in rural areas. They do not contaminate, built right. Leave Mr. Thompson alone!

deborah - December 2, 2010 Reply

I can very well see a big developer behind this. I would bet my last dime that he was already approached to sell and refused so they started passing some $$ under the table to the “powers that be” in that county…

Rachel - December 2, 2010 Reply

I don’t see how is is bothering anyone is he has 36acres all to himself.

Sounds like silly regulations to me.

I’m sure if he can find someone to simply help him build an outhouse or some sort of was to dispose of his waste he could manage to stay.

deborah - December 2, 2010 Reply

I was just scanning the Google ads here and almost fainted when I read this one:

Easy Eviction Notice Form
Make a Free Eviction Notice Online Absolutely Free-Print, Save & Send

Lucas - December 2, 2010 Reply

I agree: follow the money trail. Someone’s got a financial stake in this property. This guy is such a health hazard in a state that’s overrun with mono-crop big agribusiness dumping fertilizer and pesticides all over the ground for more soy and corn that they can pump in to supermarkets and fast food joints. Wake up America! Nothing’s going to happen until people start breaking sh!t.

Anne - December 2, 2010 Reply

“…not safe and sanitary” on 36 acres? Bull.

More of the old zoning codes created by greedy construction companies and ignorant politicians of the past. Time to get the couunty to change them… Spread the word. He and his supporters could be the beginning of the end for restrictive zoning codes.

Randy Libby - December 2, 2010 Reply

Why are people so surprised, I live in a covered wagon with all the nessesities, no electricity, Battery and solar powered, I have no electricity bill. And becouse of this I have been denied many rights as a U.S Citizen. The ability to drive a vehicle, and vote becouse there is no utility bill attached to the property that I pay taxes on.
So my friend if you want help fighting this, let me know. I will gladly hook horses up come your way, and stand gaurd on your drive. And I think we can make alot of news, and news creates solutions.

    Josh - December 2, 2010 Reply

    That’s terrible. And by your use of words like “becouse,” “nessesities,” “gaurd,” and “alot,” I see that you must have been denied the right to go to middle school also.

    Really though, I’m not buying that you are denied a driver’s license or unable to vote simply because you don’t have a utility bill. That’s pretty preposterous. Come on, homeless people can register to vote. I was registered to vote when I was in the Army, and then when I was in college, without ever having a utility bill associated with me.

    By the way, driving a vehicle is not a right that you have as a U.S. citizen. You have no more right to drive a car than you do to practice law or medicine, which is why all require licensure by the state.

      Claudia - December 2, 2010 Reply

      Josh, not everyone has the resources — financial and/or intellectual — to get a good education. My former father-in-law, who is a kind and intelligent man, had to drop out of school when he was ten, because he had to help support his family.

        Josh - December 2, 2010 Reply

        Aren’t you required by law anymore to attend school until you’re 16? Public school is funded by taxpayers; finances shouldn’t be a limiting factor to getting a basic education. And a ten year old can’t work. I have to assume that when your former father-in-law dropped out of school at age ten, it was a very long time ago. My greater point though was the issue of “my rights are being denied because I don’t have utility bills.” As I said, I’m not buying the claim that someone is denied the right to vote because there is no utility service on their property, nor do I believe that’s preventing someone from getting a driver’s license, which, as I pointed out, is not a “right” anyway.

          Josh - December 2, 2010 Reply

          *I don’t actually know anything about it being 16 years, but I thought I’d heard before that you’re not allowed to drop out of school until a certain age had been reached (I imagine it might vary by state).

          Nick S - December 3, 2010 Reply

          Hey Josh, how about you take it down a notch? Chances are very good that her father-in-law was around before such rules were enacted. And who says that 10-year olds “can’t” work? Maybe there are laws and regulations attempting to prevent such, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t or can’t happen even nowadays.

          Josh - December 3, 2010 Reply

          Reply to Nick:

          And who says that 10-year olds “can’t” work?

          The United States Department of Labor says so.

          Ryan - December 7, 2010 Reply

          So, I guess the Disney channel was never informed about those labor laws. Is that it Josh?

      Val - December 3, 2010 Reply

      your post is a flame and totally off the topic of the story…

      have you helped the man in the story or supported those who are confronting him..? neither….

      hopefully, others reading this story here on TINY will ALSO go to the paper where this ran and make their comments about government intervention…..All he likely needs to do is to ask for a variance! once approved, using the mass of his land and he choice to live in a primitive way, they all will be out of his face.
      go to the newspaper’s comment section…

      Elizabeth Goertz - December 3, 2010 Reply

      The red tape makers say you have to have proof of residency, and that is proved with bills. Claudia, I find your comments about spelling rude and off the topic. I have a college education, had spelling tutors and still have third grade spelling.
      What he is saying is that we must band together,to get things changed. And josh was the first on this list to offer to DO some thing.
      Josh, hook up your wagon and go camp on this mans drive way and tell the reporters your story. And the rest of you with tiny mobile houses should do it to. If you decide to go I will join you, but I’ll be in a tent!

        Elizabeth Goertz - December 3, 2010 Reply

        Sorry claudia, I got the wrong order on the names. I meant to scold Josh about what he said to Randy

Eric - December 2, 2010 Reply

Someone is definately wanting that land to build another frickin Wal-mart or something to that effect. Frickin bureaucrats ! Always wanting to prey on the weak, If he is a health hazard so are 90% of the campsites you go to then.

Cathy Johnson (Kate) - December 2, 2010 Reply

This is just crazy, isn’t it? 38 acres he owns…I don’t get it.

Walt Barrett - December 2, 2010 Reply

This is just more of the same old bureaucratic BS that the local governments use to control, and tax every aspect of our lives from cradle to grave. We had a very similar situation in our town, and they even jailed the poor old man several times. Well he finally died, and now a town insider owns the land, and it has been subdivided into nearly one hundred lots. Gee, what a coincidence,
and they wonder why people go berserk! I swear to God, the American people are sleeping, and maybe they actually deserve screwing they are taking! Whatever happened to going after these white collar crook politicians? It just takes a little SPINE.

Chris - December 2, 2010 Reply

Anyone who has a problem with this needs to read Thoreau’s Walden.

This man is someone to be admired.

Roger - December 2, 2010 Reply

I wonder if he’s been surrounded by new homes and the neighbors complain because his living style doesn’t match theirs? He was likely there long before his neighbors given that the story related that he purchased the property from his parents. But, you can never tell what the whole story is behind the news drama and media frenzy. Maybe he could sell one acre and use the money to comply with the rules he’s breaking? But, it appears he’s ready to leave anyway. It’s a shame any way you slice it. I wish people could live free on their own land.

Matt - December 2, 2010 Reply

THB Readers: Bill Maxwell (765) 641-9541 is the Interim Planning Director for Madison County, IN. Here is his email:

Do like I did and give him a call and/or send him an email and tell him what you think about the counties actions regarding Mr. Thompson.

While you’re at it cc Brad (the reported who broke the story) at Wish TV ( If the planning office gets bombarded with voice/email messages in support of Mr. Thompson that will mean a lot more then ranting on the THB where we are singing to the choir for the most part.

This kind of thing really gets my goat.

Cheers, -mc

    Val - December 3, 2010 Reply

    way to go Matt!

    Elizabeth Goertz - December 3, 2010 Reply

    I am going to!

Al Mollitor - December 2, 2010 Reply

Wouldn’t it be great if a reader of this blog local to the area could go out there and get the real story? Comments here really make me wonder if someone with a financial interest could be behind this.

    Elizabeth Goertz - December 3, 2010 Reply

    While it dose sound suspicious, those of us who have had to deal with local government officials will find it perfectly plausible. These laws are made with intent to save people from them self’s, and perhaps protect neighbors. but one they are worded, there is no room for flexibility, and no exceptions for creativity. If he were living in a passive solar house, with wood back up heat and solar panels on the roof, a rain water collection system and a hand pumped well and an incarcerating toilet. they would still harass him.

      Nick S - December 3, 2010 Reply

      I think you meant to say an INCINERATING toilet. An INCARCERATING toilet would be something else indeed 😉

        Anne - December 3, 2010 Reply

        lol. I like it… Hey Deek – next project? 😉
        Perhaps fully equipped with a generous supply of Almond Joy…

Matt - December 2, 2010 Reply

Madison County Council Emails:,,,,,

Tell ’em what you think!

Sandi - December 2, 2010 Reply

God Bless this elderly man….another reason to not move to the U.S. Maybe the evictor would drive him to one of your major cities and drop him off to live on the streets.Is that “allowed”?????

P Knapp - December 2, 2010 Reply

What makes the difference about his amenities?
So, he can use a chemical toilet & pay to dispose of at a truck stop or land fill. He can shower/do laundry @ friend/family. Heat? Did you ever sleep in a camper?! It gets down right HOT!
SO WHAT?! We know “So what”! SOMEBODY is after this man’s land! Don’t let this happen Madison Co Indiana. Don’t let this happen Hoosiers. Don’t let this happen Americans. Why can’t someone keep land that belongs to them and live the way they want?? He’s not in the middle of town…..he’s out on his own acreage, for crying out loud!!! I say Leave him alone!

P Knapp - December 2, 2010 Reply

How long has this guy been living out there by himself? days, weeks, months, years?
And someone just now decided to make a problem?
If he owns the land, it’s his! Leave him alone!
(I’m still irked by this! 🙂

Mike Jones - December 2, 2010 Reply

Our forefathers would be ashamed at what we have become.

F H - December 2, 2010 Reply

Does he want us to organize some sort of resistance on his behalf? If so, we should.

    Kent Griswold - December 2, 2010 Reply

    He has not contacted us, someone shared the story with me and I put it out for everyone to read.

Heather - December 2, 2010 Reply

This is very sad and I am going to write those emails to the county/news, even though I don’t live in the US (thanks Scott for providing them). I suspect, as the others have said, this is totally political – someone either wants this land or there are some McMansions close by and they don’t like the scenery of this fellow’s place. That said, often these folks don’t do themselves any favors by keeping their property in a perpetual state of dumpiness/hoarding (not saying this is the case here but it could be). I think saying they are kicking him off because he doesn’t have electricity/plumbing, etc. is just a smokescreen and the real issue is because folks have complained or someone wants the land. I think everyone should take pride in what they own – keep it clean and neat, regardless of whether you are poor or rich. Often acreages are invitations for junk heaps, old jalopies strewn about, and other nasties blighting the landscape. Maybe that is the real issue. Still, the fellow has the right to his own land. Wouldn’t he be cozy in a nice tiny house of his own with his dear pets. I’ll bet then no one would be bothering him, electricity or not.

    Heather - December 2, 2010 Reply

    Oops, I meant thanks “Matt”.

SoPasCat - December 2, 2010 Reply

That county SUCKS if they kick an old man off his own property !

I agree what Mike said. The reporter should have asked Mr. Thompson what the minimum is to stay … He’s 76 yrs old & should be left alone. It’s HIS property & he’s doing nothing wrong.

Joan Russell - December 2, 2010 Reply

I found this story from a link on Clandestine Chickens…oh my MY! I cannot believe the abuse of local power, going after this man.

There are many ways to life one’s life – if he is happy and satisfied, what exactly is the problem here?

Victoria - December 2, 2010 Reply

I grew up in that neck of the woods –
this gives a whole new meaning to “HOOSIER HYSTERIA”!

I suppose the government would prefer that this gentleman become homeless and live on the street or under an interstate overpass. Oh, yes, much more sanitary that way.

Al Mollitor - December 2, 2010 Reply

I just wrote to the reporter, Brad Edwards. You can see the letter on a post on my blog:

Thanks to Lucas for the “follow the money” idea. I hope many locals (ie. voters) write to the TV station and the County. Obviously, since I don’t live there, my voice is insignificant.

    kk - December 2, 2010 Reply

    Can someone send a copy of these comments to the news? It might help stir up some support.

kk - December 2, 2010 Reply

Wow! Don’t they have more important endeavors to pursue? It’s pretty sad that local tax dollars are spent doing these types of activities.

What perspectives as well. It’s not “safe” to live without a sewer and electricity! Come on! That is ridiculous. Maybe they should ponder on that statement a little more and decide what exactly he is going to happen to him without those 2 things. People’s perspectives of needs have sure been warped within the age of commodities.

Why not be part of the solution if they have a problem with how he is living. Help him build an outhouse that is “safe.” Help him acquire a generator that is “safe.” Make sure he is able to get “safe” drinking water.

I’m saddened to think the human race feels the need to control everything around them so much to make sure that everyone lives according to their standards.

What can we do to help? Can we generate a voice that will “wake” these people up a bit?

Brand - December 2, 2010 Reply

Shameful. And where are his neighbors? If he’s too poor to afford a septic tank and outhouse, then somebody ought to donate their time and equipment to get out there and help him.

    Nick S - December 3, 2010 Reply

    I think that is missing the point. The point is that you *CAN* live safely and in a sanitary manner WITHOUT a septic tank. There are outhouses, incinerating toilets, composting toilets, even the techniques outlined in the Humanure Handbook are sanitary if properly maintained. Like others have stated, this is just a result of existing short-sighted regulations that a small-minded county inspector is not willing to be flexible with. — Nick p.s. Disclaimer: I didn’t read the linked article so I have no idea how the person in question is maintaining himself and his land. But it is POSSIBLE.

Josh - December 2, 2010 Reply

I was curious where this land was, so I tried looking it up. There is no property owned by a “Dick Thompson” in Madison County, Indiana. Closest is Richard Earl and Ruth W. Thompson that appear to own some lots within the city/town of Alexandria, IN, totaling less than one acre. I don’t know what conclusion to draw there, but it’s curious that he “owns” this land, yet the property is apparently not in his name.

I wondered where it was because, as others have pointed out, I thought there was probably something else going on here. I suspected that maybe the property was very unkempt and run-down, possibly surrounded by homeowners who took care of their properties, and people wanted the weird, old guy who lives in a crappy trailer gone. Who knows though.

    Anne - December 2, 2010 Reply

    Dick is short for Richard… However, if he has 1 acre instead of 36 and is within a municipality instead of a rural area, there is more to the story…

      Josh - December 2, 2010 Reply

      …Dick is short for Richard…

      No kidding? News to me. (If anyone could see how hard I’m rolling my eyes right now they’d think I was having a seizure.)

        Josh - December 2, 2010 Reply

        I should also point out that the listing was for what appeared to be a man and his wife; this guy certainly seems to live alone. I was not implying that this guy only owns 1 acre, spread out over more than one lot. The point was that this guy doesn’t seem to show up as a property owner in that county at all.

          Val - December 3, 2010 Reply

          people cn own property and it may NOT BE IN THEIR OWN NAME. eye roll beyond belief on this end!

          Josh, you are a talker. not a doER.
          Write to the links that Matt gave. Do something valuable.
          eye roll again!

          the other issue may be property maintenance. If others in the county are being held accountable for property maintenance expectations, 1 acre or 100, 1/2 acre or 800sqft or not, the expectations are to be held for all… One of the biggest concerns any area has now is the vision of blight. It may not be actual blight but the appearance of blight wold not bode well for any area or the taxpayers.

          Also, people dont need to be poor to CHOOSE to live in a primitive way. There also is no need for primitive to mean sloppy, disorganized or void of any sense of protection of ones health or safety.

          Matt has given the links for the emails … use them and be sure to express in your post that you wish to have your words read into the permanent record in open session, made part of the minutes and and made part of the file on the property.

    kk - December 2, 2010 Reply

    I think “Dick” is a common nickname for those named Richard. So his formal name may be Richard Thompson.

    It looks like his place is pretty far from neighbors and the road, so who cares if his place looks messy. They can try looking the other direction when they go by. I can understand keeping more standards when living in close community with others, but some people just need to live out in the country as they can’t very well adapt to other’s standards. What looks like “junk” may be important to them for some reason or another.

MikeMac - December 2, 2010 Reply

Lawyers…good for compost-nothing more. Which greedy developer wants his land. Follow the money to the lawyer who is working to steal the land. Pathetic!

Cheryll - December 2, 2010 Reply

The latest update sounds like Mr. Thompson has given up the fight, and entered into an agreement to sell his land, pack up and move.

Josh - December 2, 2010 Reply

Lawyers…good for compost-nothing more…

Until you need help setting up your will, or incorporating your business, settling a divorce with a spouse, recovering damages from someone who injured you…

I’ll bet this guy could benefit from the help an attorney could provide. I guess if he had your attitude he’d just represent himself. I’m sure that would work out well.

    Nick S - December 3, 2010 Reply

    Josh: do you have some purpose here besides being antagonistic? If not, please do us all a favor and go away. Thanks.

      Josh - December 3, 2010 Reply


      Josh: do you have some purpose here besides being antagonistic?

      And the comment I responded to, about lawyers being good for nothing but compost, was OK; that’s not antagonistic? Like I said though, you can think that, until you need help understanding the law, or defending your rights in court (like this man might need help with). I’m sure there are some attorneys out there (in Indiana) that would offer up a little time to do some pro bono work and help this guy, just on the principle of the matter. If he has the same attitude as the commenter I replied to – that all lawyers are good for is compost – I’ll bet he’d have trouble getting any support from a charitable attorney.

Aaron - December 2, 2010 Reply

I can’t tell from the video if the reporters made any effort to get a list of the county ordinances and codes Dick Thompson is allegedly violating.

That’s probably because they can’t actually supply one. The following is all they need.


“The Building Commissioner shall order the repair or removal of any buildings found to be unsafe as defined in this section…”

“Any building or structure which has any or all of the conditions or defects described in the definition below shall be deemed to be an unsafe building, provided that such conditions or defects endanger the life, health, property, or safety of the public or its occupants.:

g. Whenever a building or structure, used or intended to be used for dwelling purposes, because maintenance, dilapidation, decay, damage, faulty construction or arrangements inadequate light, air or sanitation facilities, or otherwise, is determined by the Building Commissioner, Board of Health, Township or City Fire Chief or Administrative Building Council State Inspector to be unsanitary, unfit for human habitation, or in such a condition that is likely to cause sickness or disease;”

In other words “Because we say so.”

    Josh - December 2, 2010 Reply


    …The Building Commissioner shall order the repair or removal of any buildings found to be unsafe as defined in this section…

    That’s neat that you found that, but the problem with it is it appears to apply only to “buildings.” If you look up the Madison County, Indiana, Land Use and Development Basic Provisions, you’ll find a definition of “building.” You’ll also find a definition for “Recreational Vehicle.” The definition is – “A vehicle which is (1) built on a single chassis; (2) 400 square feet or less when measured at the largest horizontal projections; (3) designed to be self-propelled or permanently towable by a light duty truck; and (4) designed primarily not for use as a permanent dwelling, but as quarters for recreational camping, travel, or seasonal use.”

    Despite the fact that the trailer is occupied full time, it falls under the definition of “recreational vehicle,” and the section you referenced (pertaining to buildings and structures) would not apply to it.

      Aaron - December 2, 2010 Reply

      “That’s neat that you found that”? Patronize much?

      According to the story, the county isn’t trying to evict him for camping too long on his property, they’re trying to evict him for water, sewer, and electricity code violations. As far as I can tell you have to at least have those things before you can violate the Indiana Administration Codes that regulate them, so those are out. Shocking! Could they actually not care whether it’s a building or not? Certainly not in the god-fearing heartland where codes are written in vague and expansive language that leave them open to wide interpretation and easy abuse.

JD - December 3, 2010 Reply

I think I found his parcel and info on the Madison County Indiana ArcIMS site. It took all of five minutes to track it down.

Here’s the link to the search page:

Using search terms “Richard” in the first name field and “Thompson” in last name brings up a list. Scroll to the very last record. It is 38.1 acres and I believe this might be his land. It is listed as

Sr 28

On that website you can also view a map of the parcel by clicking on the magnifying glass icon to the right of the above listed info. The icon right of the magnifying glass will bring up a very detailed record of the property while the far left icon gives the tax records.

The research is very telling. When you look at his property on the map, you can see how the town is expanding closer and closer to his parcel (development potential). If you look at his tax valuation, the parcel is valued as non-residential with a $0 value listed for residential. I would bet the county wants to see the land all the amenities (electricity, septic, etc.) so they can tax it as residential (more money for them) rather than as non-residential. I’m sure they’d especially like to see it broken into acre or 1/2 acre lots all taxed as residential with stick-built houses on each–much more revenue for the county.

Let’s spread the word about Dick’s plight. It is government abuse of an owner’s property rights to tell him he can’t permanently “camp” off the grid on his own land. The next time, it might be one of us in his shoes.

    Anne - December 3, 2010 Reply

    Good find, JD. And it sounds like your alalysis is right on the mark. Thanks for the info.

    Josh - December 3, 2010 Reply

    Ah, yes, good find. Not sure how I missed that, but I surely did. Here are links to a screenshot of the property, and a satellite view (from Google Earth) with an outline of the property. It looks like the reason that it has a zero residential value is because it’s nothing but agricultural land. The assessor site states the land use type as “fields and pastures” (Grid, N40.274521, W85.697198). It appears he’s just parked his old trailer in a pasture or farm field. I guess it would be a little different if it was parked in a wooded area, hidden from view. I imagine the county (and neighbors) look at this similar to the way they look at someone who has parked a junk car on blocks in their yard.

    Victoria - December 3, 2010 Reply

    His address on the eviction paperwork is clearly shown in the video if you stop the video to see it. I googled it – looks like a cornfield next to some large McMansion-type home with manicured lawn. Perhaps, his neighbors are the ones who have complained about him. People with money and influence have been known to do this sort of thing.

Marty - December 3, 2010 Reply

Seems to me instead of evicting him, local officials would do well to just help him install a composting toilet and a small water tower. Unless, as someone mentioned above, there’s someone passing illicit $$$ to get him off his land.

Morning Links | The Agitator - December 3, 2010 Reply

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County in Indiana Evicts Man for Living Simply | Bill Roehl - December 3, 2010 Reply

[…] not even close to Dakota County, I recently came across this article on one of my favorite sites which talks about how a man trying to live simply and how the county he […]

Deek - December 3, 2010 Reply

Yeah, It could be a host of things…

Someone/developer wants his land, as a few of you have mentioned.

Some neighbor complained that this home/set-up is “bringing his property value down”- or doesn’t like to look at this place on his/her commute to work…

The County has nothing better to do (while criminals, rapists, and drug dealers roam free- they’re focusing tax payer’s resourses on THIS)- and/or someone behind this is running for some sort of local office and wants a victim to show how “I’m/we’re cleaning up this town!”

The Elec, Sewer, and whatever company wants to nip this off-the-grid trend in the butt before too many people aren’t paying them for services anymore….

I guess the lesson is BUILD UNDERGROUND. lol. Half kidding….


Elizabeth Goertz - December 3, 2010 Reply

I suggest that those who are so inclined, and who have the means, Physically go to this man and help him. Get his permission first!
wouldn’t it be cool to make this a national media event for tiny house rights? What if dozens of mobile tiny houses suddenly appeared on his property! short term of coarse, and other readers who cant go, sent contributions to help dig a well and put in a septic. Or get him a variance. in the mean time the media would interview all the tiny house people about what its like to buck the system.
We need to start changing these laws, because there are a lot of us out there dodging them, and sooner or later ” the man” will catch up to us all.

Moontreeranch - December 3, 2010 Reply

He obliviously is not without water…he may not have RUNNING water …Horses drink a lot a water…were are they getting their water…The trailer may have a chemical toilet in it…there is just a lot of information that in missing.

I agree that the tax man is to on chasing him down..agricultural land tax is cheap…Residential Land tax is not.

If this guy lived in the wild west…he could probably get away with it until he dies.

and then again He could defend himself…I recently saw a sign in Rural Colorado…

Trespassers will be shot…Survivors will be Shot again!!

Might make those county guys think twice eh?

orogeny - December 3, 2010 Reply

I don’t really understand what you folks are proposing. Approximately 150,000 people live in Madison County. The law is designed to apply to all of them. Do you think that county officials should have the discretion to be able to say “This law applies to you, but not not to this other person?” Exactly how would that work? Do you think that governments shouldn’t be allowed to regulate things like this? Should all 150,000 people be allowed to dump their waste on the ground, as long as they own the ground that they are dumping on?

    Josh - December 3, 2010 Reply

    …Do you think that county officials should have the discretion to be able to say “This law applies to you, but not to this other person?”…

    Yes, that’s exactly what should happen. Don’t you get it? Laws that are enacted by our elected officials, for the good of all citizens, to be applied universally, don’t apply to people who want to live a “tiny house” (or in this case, a dilapidated old trailer) lifestyle. He owns the land? You can say that; he has fee-simple title to the land. Does that give him free reign to do whatever he wants with it? No, of course not. He still must pay taxes on the land (if he truly “owned” something in the purest sense, how could you continue to be taxed on it?), if a utility company needs to run cables or water pipes through his property, can he decline to allow them? No. Just because the title to the land is in his name doesn’t mean he should be allowed to do whatever he wants. I’ll admit it’s probably being driven by neighbors who don’t like living next to a guy in a dumpy trailer with livestock running around, but neither would most people. This doesn’t look to be a real remote area – it’s right outside of town (less than a mile, it looks like). I’m sure if he moved his setup to a more remote location, nobody would bother him.

      orogeny - December 3, 2010 Reply

      The snark is strong in this one…

        Josh - December 3, 2010 Reply

        That’s a fair statement. But, in light of the comments suggesting that he shouldn’t have to abide by the rules that are in place for EVERYONE, it didn’t seem entirely inappropriate. If a person wants to live on the fringe of society by living off grid in a run-down trailer with no utilities or mechanism for waste disposal, it’s best not to do it right on the outskirts of town. If this guy wants to live like that, he needs to have the good sense to do it out in the middle of nowhere, where he won’t be offending his neighbors (which, I’m sure, is part of the reason this has been brought to light).

    Anne - December 3, 2010 Reply

    I would be inclined to agree with you if the property were small and in a municipality… But it is zoned rural and of sufficient size to sustain one man and multiple animals with no danger (sanitarily or otherwise) to its surrounding area… This truly does appear to be a mere land grab by a greedy county wishing more tax revenue.

      orogeny - December 3, 2010 Reply

      This issue is simply what the law says. If Mr. Thompson is in violation, there’s nothing the government can do…they have to enforce the law equally for all residents of the county. Anything else is a recipe for favoritism and discrimination. If county residents want the law changed, (and I suspect that the great majority do not) they can petition their representatives to do so.

        Anne - December 3, 2010 Reply

        Normally people in his situation are ‘grandfathered’ in… as he likely was, originally. The codes changed after he had already inhabited the land… Until the county ‘needed’ to push their new industrial plan a few years ago. Not the brightest time to be pushing manufacturing in the middle of the word globalization boom… He appears to be the scapegoat for their failure…

heynow - December 3, 2010 Reply

orogeny, how many of those 150,000 people do you think would be content to live without electricity, sewer, and running water? I’m willing to wager he’s the only one out there that is. I see what you are saying, but I think you need to bring some common sense into your argument. Government is big enough as it is and this situation is absurd. As a victim of eminent domain, it looks to me as if the city/county is after his land in order to expand and it’s as plain and simple as that. This man owns this land and is not harming anyone. He should be left alone.

orogeny - December 3, 2010 Reply

I’m still asking, how does the government implement such a policy? Do they set a limit on how many people can live without utilities? Do they only enforce the law when they don’t like the person they are dealing with? Allowing laws to be applied capriciously is a formula for exactly the kind of tyranny that you are against. Statues depicting Lady Justice wear a blindfold for a reason. If people want to change the law, fine. But as long as the law is in effect, it has to be enforced in exactly the same way for everyone.

    sammantha - September 30, 2013 Reply

    some laws r just plane stupid but they r there to pro tect us all from harm but any one should have the rights or right to live as they please so long as it hurts no one else or them selfs….

Trish - December 3, 2010 Reply

Read this yesterday in a link from an RV site. Ironically, the thread was closed, as a Mod deemed it “of no interest to RVers.” Go figure.

But it annoyed me.

So I called Madison County’s Planning Office and spoke to Bill Maxwell, the Planning Officer. You can call him, too.
Here’s his number: 765.641.9541.

Mr Maxwell’s a polite fellow who did tell me that only O-N-E neighbor had complained.
How many can neighbors can Dick Thompson have, anyhow?

The county attorney /prosecutor is Gerlad Shine and he can be reached here: 765.641.9474

Anyhow, I was still mad, so I made this group: Dick Thompson has a Right to Live on his Own Land
Here’s the url:!/home.php?sk=group_174921535870688

oregeny, you ask if the gov’t can do these type of things.
Yes, they can.
Can the gov’t do them legally? Well, no. Not legally.


Pat Parker - December 3, 2010 Reply

How can i contact this citizen? How can we help? there’s all these articles but now way for people to contact the recipent. We want to help. Please send contact info to Everyone is standing around gaulking, help this man!

Al Mollitor - December 3, 2010 Reply

We’re pushing 100 comments but still shedding more heat than light. Before we get too worked up, I think we need more facts. Try searching under “dick thompson madison county indiana” and a bunch of stuff pops up, but so far most I’ve seen is a rehash of the same sketchy story. If anyone finds a report heavy on facts and light on speculation, please share it.

Al Mollitor - December 5, 2010 Reply

Since I don’t live in Indiana, I don’t have much business calling Madison County officials. I figure the best thing I can do is encourage the local TV station to pay attention. My latest email to Brad Edwards is here:

If you care about this situation, do something. If you live in Indiana, contact your representatives and governor. If not, let the news media know you’re watching.

Ryan - December 7, 2010 Reply

A very dear and wonderful family of eight in Oklahoma, sold their home a few years ago to take take the family to a place where they could breath and discover and just “live” on God’s green earth. This is how it went down.

They took the equity from the sale and bought five acres (free and clear) on the outskirts of the Oklahoma City metro area. Next, they bought a tank of a bus. It was a retired mobile command unit for the Highway Patrol, with plenty of room (as far as buses go) and two good generators. Shortly thereafter, they outfitted the bus with a high dollar composting toilet rated for ten people’s daily use. Then, they homesteaded. Happily, quietly, together, they began to settle the land. Since they were a homeschooling family, the land itself acted as another teacher, inviting discovery and providing daily opportunities for creative problem solving. They were happy and things went well.

UNTIL. A neighbor voiced a complaint. Code enforcement officers made visits. State and county officers. To the officers astonishment, septic was not what the neighbor had suspected (of course they could have just gone over and asked like neighbors used to do), but rather, a very sophisticated system working well. After months of not knowing what to attack this peaceable, generous, transparent family with, they finally settled on something to do with residency in that zone. Namely, R.V. living being unacceptable. They were told that they needed to be parked on a pad/asphalt. They were told they needed to apply for a building permit (which they cannot do since they plan on building strawbale).

Since they have small children, and they didn’t want to put them in harms way challenging convention, they left. With all of their money invested in the land they were forced to leave, they left. They moved the bus to my lot next to my house in my very small town where the officials are much more reasonable people, and they lived homesick for the land, but safe.

UNTIL. A local school teacher began to make complaints about the kids not being in school (which they were, just not her school), and the bus breaking code (which it wasn’t). Nothing came of it, but the family did not want to go through it all twice. So, they left. But this time they left the bus behind because they feel as though they and their children will be misunderstood wherever they could take it. And, they were running out of options.

Now they are trying to recover financially, but they don’t want to sell the land. They were on it without any problems for over a year, and they dream of returning, but don’t know how without tens of thousands of dollars for meeting code obligations.

My questions to you all are these. What should this family do? What would you do?

    Marina - December 17, 2011 Reply

    What a story! I feel sorry for your friend and his family. Unfortunately, freedom is not free. Can’t deal with those rotten bastards.

Ryan - December 7, 2010 Reply

Make that Breathe!

Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural - December 7, 2010 Reply

Man, I wish I could bring him down to Missouri where there’s plenty of off-the-grid no restrictions parcels. He’d have no problems down here. I feel so bad for him. I’d hate to be 72 and dealing with that. I hope it all works out for him.

Lucas - December 7, 2010 Reply

To anyone playing devil’s advocate for the 150,000 residents of Madison County being subjected to this guy’s free will: This is what is called sprawl. When this guy(or his family) bought the land it was rural and no one cared. Now that the yuppie scum, bureacrats, and land speculators have gobbled up the countryside, he’s in the way of their continued land grab. So they craft some fancy BS excuse to evict him from HIS PROPERTY. This is what sprawl does. Everyone on here who lives in a metro area can find a case locally where some farmer or country boy/girl has been harassed by the menacing city governments of sprawling suburbs. Those farms just aren’t as tidy as your Chemlawned, White Picket Fenced, Taupe Box that you will be enslaved for your whole life paying for. When I was a kid there was this old country boy on my bus route who had the “Trespassers will be shot, survivors will be prosecuted” sign in his front yard. I always thought he was kind of a crazy old SOB, but nowadays I understand. This guy was probably not that different at all, just proud and independent.

dave - June 29, 2011 Reply

leave the guy alone, he is not bothering anybody {except the govmnt assholes sticking thier ugly horned heads into everybodies business} And He is on “His” own land!!! this really pisses me off!!! damn control freaks!!!

Rebecca - October 24, 2011 Reply

Most of these types of regulations have been passed by corporations or business groups like electricians, etc. The spoken reason is safety, but the underlying reason is to force people to buy services that are really unnecessary. Subdivision developers are notorious for this type of harrassment. ALEC is a business group that writes laws for over 2000 legislators at the state and local level. It doesn’t help that so many people have bought into the suburban box with 30 year mortgages and want uniformity to protect that 30 year mortgage payment.

Rebecca - October 24, 2011 Reply

Most of these types of regulations have been passed by corporations or business groups like electricians, etc. The spoken reason is safety, but the underlying reason is to force people to buy services that are really unnecessary. Subdivision developers are notorious for this type of harrassment. ALEC is a business group that writes laws for over 2000 legislators at the state and local level. It doesn’t help that so many people have bought into the suburban box with 30 year mortgages and want uniformity to protect that 30 year mortgage payment.

Daniel - December 21, 2011 Reply

“no water, no sewer and no electricity” So then why are the Amish families allowed to stay?

AnthonyRizzo - November 4, 2012 Reply

“It’s just not safe or sanitary to live like that.” Is what the county official said. I suppose he believes that being homeless, wandering the streets, exposed to the elements and criminals, with nowhere to wash up is safer and more sanitary? This is where government fails his citizenry. They can ,make exceptions. They always do. The difference is that they like to make exceptions for people willing to spend a lot of money not for people trying to save it. Shame on them. Shame!

Molly Howe - February 16, 2018 Reply

These comments are from 2010-2012, anyone know what happened to this poor man? Praying he didn’t “sellout” because he couldn’t afford to “upgrade” his way of living!

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