Long May It Wave -- But Not Out Front

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Note: I don't have a link to this article. It was sent to me via email. Cary is a small town in NW Ohio, about 22 miles east of Findlay.


Long May It Wave -- But Not Out Front

Cary man carries the banner against his neighborhood's flag restrictions

By JAY PRICE, Staff Writer

CARY -- Al Martin figures that he's no more patriotic than the next guy, even though he has flown Old Glory outside his various homes for at least 17 years. But around Memorial Day, almost on a whim, he decided to move the flag from the back of his house to a more prominent place on the front porch.

Turns out the flag's placement was a little too prominent.

On Monday, Martin received a call from the company that enforces the restrictive covenants for Williamsburgh Commons, his subdivision. He could take the flag down or move it to a more discreet location beside or behind the house, but one way or another the flag had to go.

Martin, a soft-spoken communications consultant, said he was irate. July 4 is just days away, after all.

"On top of that, Saturday was my last day serving on the National Guard after 20 years, and I just couldn't believe it," he said. "I think we should be able to fly the American flag whenever, however and wherever we want. Everyone all up and down this street should have flags flying."

Three of his neighbors in the meticulously groomed subdivision -- situated on the south side of Cary and styled closely after Colonial Williamsburg -- apparently disagree. They complained that Martin wasn't following the rules, said Sheri Fincher of R.S. Fincher & Co., the business that maintains the subdivision's appearance and enforces the rules.

Flags are allowed, but only on the sides or backs of the homes, and Martin will either have to move his or take it down, she said.

Martin, who moved to the neighborhood about three years ago, said he thinks the rule was aimed at the pineapple flags and other theme flags that have become popular decorations on suburban homes in recent years, but surely it wasn't meant to include Old Glory.

"It's legal to burn the flag, but it's not legal to display it," he said. "I could probably burn it out front and they wouldn't care. Well, maybe they would if it caught the grass on fire."

Even if Martin fights for his flag, the neighbors will only have to put up with it for six months at most: He is selling his house and moving to Apex, where he is building a home. But until then he vowed not to strike his colors.

"It's staying up, that's all there is to it," he said. "Basically, I just want to fly my flag. I don't want to make a big deal out of it, I just want to leave it up. And I will until I get a court order."

"He'll get one," Fincher said. "We'll go as far as we have to. He will move that flag if we have to fine him daily to get him to do it."

State law, she said, allows the homeowners association to fine Martin up to $150 a day if he doesn't comply with the covenants.

Martin was aware of the rule, she said, since he had to sign documents that included the covenant when he bought the house.

There are perhaps three other American flags in the neighborhood -- which is home to several veterans -- and they follow the rules and attach them to the side or back of the home, she said.

"These rules have always been in place there," she said. "For whatever reason, this guy just wants to act like Nazis are trying to take down his flag, and I'm offended that he's using our nation's flag to gain notoriety.''

Martin can seek a change to the rule, but only if he can get 90 percent of homeowners in Williamsburgh Commons to agree, she said. He also could seek special permission from the association's architectural committee, but that might be hard to get, because such permission would set a precedent.

Martin said he wouldn't be asking for permission.

"I don't think I should have to," he said.

In recent years, courts have tended to side with homeowners associations when a resident fights a specific covenant, particularly when the language of the rule is unambiguous.

Henry W. Jones, a Raleigh lawyer who represents more than 200 community associations, estimated that between 5 percent and 10 percent of them explicitly restrict flag placement and that more general language in others' covenants could restrict flags, too. He said he has had two or three cases in which residents objected to restrictions on flying their flags, but in each a settlement was reached before the case went to court, typically with the homeowner moving the flag or taking it down.

Staff writer Jay Price can be reached at 829-4526 or jprice@nando.com

-- (kb8um8@yahoo.com), June 29, 2000


Williamsburgh Commons sounds like a real swingin' place. I assume some biddy also walks the neighborhood to see if your car dripped some oil on the Communal Pavement.

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), June 29, 2000.

I suppose most would be sympathetic with this guy, but I'm not. And the reason I'm not is because he signed a typical idiotic homeowner's agreement and chose to live in a place that forces residents to decorate their houses in certain ways. Most of these types of homeowner's agreements I've seen have been utterly absurd. There was even a pretty funny X-files episode dealing with it. Everyone has to have the same mailbox, or the same lamp-post, a certain number of trees and bushes, but not too many! Etc, etc..

No doubt this guy probably had no problems with all the other rules he had to follow, even if they were silly. Nope, it took Old Glory to get him to sit up and take notice.

Hopefully, wherever he moves he'll be smart enough to either read what he's signing, or better yet, live somewhere where he doesn't have to follow a ridiculous agreement about what he can do with his own property.

-- (hmm@hmm.hmm), June 29, 2000.

A little bit of a segue here but I thought I'd slide it in since we're on the subject of homeowner's rights...

A man in Houston, Texas, who kept holding noisy parties at his home, returned one night to find that the neighbors had bulldozed his home to the ground. (UK Mirror 25-Jun-00 - forwarded by a friend - sorry no link.)

That'll show him! LOL

-- LunaC (Home@TheRange.com), June 29, 2000.

He knew the rule when he signed at the closing. It sucks but it's the rule. That's why associations aren't for the independent minded non-confomist. Rules rules rules everywhere for everyone about everything. Dont' breath too loud you might disturb the dust and that might offend your neighbor. Bah! I'd rather sleep in a tent out in the woods than have to ass-kiss a lard-butt-soccer-mom-run fascist association. I was in a condo association once but they got mad at me cause I threw my empty beercans off my deck onto the lawn. There were 3 fat ugly broads from the assocation that came over to fine me and tell me that was a no-no. I threw empty beer cans at them and they had me arrested. Big bouncing roles of turd-skin came goose stepping across the lawn at me, clipboards in hand. The boards of my porch squeaked and groaned under there sweat soacked stench ridden carcasses as they lumbered up the steps. They were in their glory. This was the crowing achievement of their lives. With all the authority and pomposity they could muster they told me that I was being fined and that I was "going" to stop this atrocious behavior at once or risk more fines. They stood there with their hideously disfigured bulbous noses pointed skyward waiting for my reply. I reached down into the cooler on my deck, stuffed another cheeze-whiz laden wheat thin into my mouth, let out a belch that sent crumbs all over my beer, sweat and food stained tank top, and then shook up to bud-light cans as hard as I could, cracked the tops and sprayed those 3 human swine with ice cold cheap American beer. They bolted off the porch as fast as there massive stump legs could excelerate. Jiggling blubber abounded. I threw both empty cans and whacked one of'em in the back of the head. The cops arrived in less than 5 minutes. I moved shortly after that.

-- Fascist Association Bounty Hunter (condosareyuppytrailers@park.address), June 29, 2000.

I would agree, hmm. I've turned down houses that had covenants that I just couldn't agree with, and I moved out of one neighborhood where the "association" enacted some bullshit restrictions on (1) the type of shrubbery I could have in front of my house and (2) the type of mailbox I was "allowed" to have. Read the fine print -- if you don't like the terms, there are houses all over the place.

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), June 29, 2000.

is it ok. to fly the U.N. flag?c,mon big-brother,let,s get it over with!!

-- al-d. (dogs@zianet.com), June 29, 2000.

Lemme think on this for a bit...Not permitted to hang a piece of cloth, not allowed to pray outloud..... Guess a Blow Job is out of the question also....SYSOP, your call on message.

-- Otabounds (st@ndup.com), June 29, 2000.


I like your style,good riddance to the association.

-- capnfun (capnfun1@excite.com), June 29, 2000.

Dear Mr. Otabounds;

We have researched your query, and we find nothing in the Homeowner's Association Bylaws and Restrictions specifically regarding Blow Jobs. Just don't hang an flag in front of yourself while you're doing it.

-- Your Homeowner's Association

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), June 30, 2000.

"I'm Here", I am ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!

-- OTABOUNDS (st@ndup.com), June 30, 2000.

I think the KEY here is that three neighbors complained. We live in one of those places where there's a Homeowner's Association. I remember when I met the self-appointed "head" of that organization. He commented on how he was sure we'd bought this house because of the Home Owner's Association. I didn't buy this house; SO had it built; However, I made it clear to the "head" that this was NOT the reason.

There ARE goofy statements in those Homeowner's Association manuals. Here, there's something about everyone having blinds rather than drapes. We didn't even know that, as we PREFER blinds over drapes. There's also something about basketball hoops. Again, we're not affected because we don't have one. There's a rule that states folks can't park a car on the street overnight. We've had a car parked on the street ever since we've moved here. Of course we've been at the end of a "dead-end" street ever since we moved here. Another home is now being built in the lot to the "left". We'll wait and see if the new owners complain. I doubt that they will. Folks typically complain if they don't like you, and we've been out there to meet new neighbors as soon as they've moved in. So far, so good.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), June 30, 2000.

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