By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
OK, it’s Memorial Day weekend. Time to display the American flag.
Unless, of course, you live in an HOA. Then you can only display the American flag when and how the rules say you can.
Honestly, these flag display conflicts are getting tiresome. They rear their ugly head anytime from Memorial Day through Veteran’s Day. For some Association Governed housing developments, it’s just another excuse to enforce arbitrary rules and threaten fines.
The latest report comes to us from Olde Alanta Club HOA, Forsyth County, Georgia. Homeowner Stacy Campbell has a son serving the coast guard. He recently moved to Olde Atlanta, and, in the spirit of patriotism, he has decorated his front porch with summer flower pots adorned with small American flags – six of them to be exact.
Well, it did not take long for the long arm of HOA law to descend upon Campbell. They said the flags have to go, or the homeowner will face fines of $300 per day – $50 per flag!
I can’t make this stuff up. Here’s the report from WSBTV News:
Now some readers may remember that in 2005, a federal law was enacted entitled Freedom to Display the American Flag, so how can the HOA get away with this?
Ah, it’s the fine print in the federal law, under “limitations” as follows:
SEC. 4. LIMITATIONS.
Nothing in this Act shall be considered to permit any display or use that is inconsistent with–
(1) any provision of chapter 1 of title 4, United States Code, or any rule or custom pertaining to the proper display or use of the flag of the United States (as established pursuant to such chapter or any otherwise applicable provision of law); or
(2) any reasonable restriction pertaining to the time, place, or manner of displaying the flag of the United States necessary to protect a substantial interest of the condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association.
Why the special limitations for Association Governed housing? Well, it’s because industry ‘advocacy’ group, Community Associations Institute, says that associations ought to have the right to set limitation! Here’s what the group that claims to represent homeowners has to say about display of the American flag in Associations:
While CAI applauds efforts by associations and state legislatures to promote the flying of the American flag, we do not feel it is sensible to eliminate all mechanisms for consideration and approval of the size, placement or installation of a flagpole. Although flagpoles may be appropriate for some associations, they are clearly not appropriate for all community associations. An association, not state law, is the best entity for making a determination on height and placement parameters for a flagpole.
You can read the entire public policy here:
The HOA does allow display of the American flag, but only if it’s 4 by 6 inches, and only on a flag pole attached to the house. So, technically, Olde Atlanta Club appears to be within the law in prohibiting display by any other means.
Sad, but true.
Apparently the HOA believes that other displays of Old Glory, including larger flags, might seriously detract from the aesthetic beauty of the 640 upscale home golf community near Atlanta?
What I find particularly crazy about this case is the HOA’s bold move to fine $50 per day for each of 6 flags. As opposed to considering this one violation, they are going to charge for six violations.
Oh, and did you notice from the video report that the next board meeting will take place in July – after Memorial Day and 4th of July, of course?