FOX 4 Problem Solvers: Couple wants to continue camping in residential area

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LINN VALLEY, Kan. -- Take a drive to Linn Valley, Kansas and take a peek at the good life. This gated city is about an hour from Kansas City has seven private lakes and custom built homes.

It's an idyllic spot that doesn't want Liz Smith or her husband Michael as neighbors anymore.

The Smiths moved to Linn Valley two years ago after a friend gave them a piece of property. The problem is that the Smiths never built a home. Instead they are living in four tents on their lot.

They use a public bathhouse, do their cooking on a campfire and use a wood stove for heat during the winter.

They rely on a solar panel kit to create enough power to keep their phones running and to charge an electric fence and security cameras.

The fence keeps their two dogs inside the property. The security cameras are to keep code enforcement out.

But Code Enforcement Officer Ralph Fitch said he has every right and plenty of reasons to inspect the Smith's property for violations.

"We were getting complaints from people around that they had built up all of these tents and stuff," said Fitch who is also a former mayor of Linn Valley.

In May, Fitch handed the Smiths an eviction notice for violating multiple city codes. But the Smiths dispute those violations.

"I feel we are being drug through the mud for no reason," Liz Smith said. "We are quiet people. We don't bother anybody."

Fitch said the Smiths can't legally live on their property full time unless they build a house and install a septic tank system.

"They think because they live in a rural setting and they are down here they should be able to do what they want and that's just not the case," Fitch said.

But Liz Smith said she and her husband are not the only people in Linn Valley who camp.

The difference, however, is that the other campers live in Linn Valley mostly in the summer and on small lots designated as campsites. The Smiths' lot is zoned residential.

Smith said she and her husband have been camping to help pay off more than $120,000 in debt.  She says they've slashed that debt in half in the last two years.

She's worried where they will live if they are forced to leave.

"It's not about having property," Smith said. "It's about having a home. We don't have four walls, but we have a home and I dearly love where we live."

But Fitch said everyone in Linn Valley loves their homes and that's why there are rules to keep a beautiful community beautiful.

The Smiths head to court at the end of the month to fight their eviction. They worry that because they can't afford a lawyer they will lose.