Society

Veteran Angry With HOA American Flag Rules

| by Michael Doherty

Residents in a Georgia town are outraged after their homeowners association reportedly sent out guidelines on how and when they can display their American flags.

Residents in the Village at Towne Lake in Cherokee County, Georgia, have spoken out against their homeowners association's decision to impose limitations on how they can fly the American flag, WAGA reports.

"You don't mess with my flag," said U.S. Navy veteran Tom Wilder. Wilder said the HOA limited the number of days, mainly holidays but not including Father's Day, that residents could display their flags, as well as the ways in which the flags could be displayed outside of homes.

"They are giving us 23 days to display it," said Wilder. "Now we won't be able to even put it in the ground. It has to be in a flag holder attached to our houses."

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"We should be able to put up the flag anytime we want," Wilder added.

"To me, you're basically saying it's a Christmas decoration," said Wilder's neighbor and fellow veteran Pete Rockett. Both veterans said they would not be taking down the flag.

"I don't think I would be able to look at myself in the mirror," said Rockett.

The email that residents received from the HOA said that the guidelines will "help maintain the aesthetic and architectural theme of the community."

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When asked when he would take down his flag, Wilder replied, "When I'm dead," Fox News reports.

While an HOA can limit the display of certain flags, some are protected under state or federal laws, according to Nolo.

The Freedom to Display The American Flag Act of 2005 makes it illegal for an HOA to restrict the display of American flags, but the association can still limit the place, time and method of the display. For example, an HOA could tell a resident to take down a flag that's so big that it would block a neighbor's view, or a flag that could potentially fall on someone.

Some state laws also prevent HOAs from restricting other flags, such as Native American, military or state flags.

In another HOA dispute over flag displays, a Florida man's collection of flags has left neighbors and his HOA upset, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Warren Erickson had a collection of flags from different countries displayed outside of his home in Palm Harbor, Florida. The 83-year-old said his flags, which included a Bavarian flag, a German flag and the U.S. Marine Corps flag, among others, was a personally meaningful set of mementos from foreign visitors that he had hosted. Each of his visitors brought a new flag.

"We never sat down a planned the [flag] program," said Erickson. "It just grew."

But Erickson's neighbors, and his HOA, had a problem with the flag collection.

"We have some older people from Europe who are really offended by the German flag," said Bart Bennawit, the secretary/treasurer of the neighborhood's HOA, which rewrote its regulations around flags.

"There's some friction around here, and I'm not sure why," said Erickson. "It's not like I'm flying the flag that ISIS flies."

Sources: WAGA, Fox News, Tampa Bay Times, Nolo / Photo credit: Shane Adams/Flickr

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