Governor backs Jupiter flag flier fighting with HOA
Article Courtesy of The Jupiter Courier
By Randall Murray Staff Writer
June 7, 2002

Palm Beach County's "flag man," who is facing foreclosure on his home for refusing to take down a U.S. flag, has a fan in Tallahassee.

George Andres, the former Marine who has been sued by his homeowners association over a 12-foot flagpole and American flag he erected in his yard, received some encouraging words this week from Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

In a letter to Andres signed by Bush, the governor expressed support for Andres' ongoing legal dispute.

"Members of the Legislature and I were shocked at the difficulties you confronted merely because you wished to fly a small United States flag in front of your home," Bush wrote. "In response, we crafted Senate Bill 148 to remedy these difficulties faced by you and other homeowners."

Bush was responding to a letter Andres sent him last month outlining his more than 18-month battle with the Indian Creek Homeowners Association Phase III-B in Jupiter over the flag and pole. The association board ordered Andres in October 2000 to take it down. He refused, saying a previous board had given him permission for the pole.

He was taken to court. Two court decisions went against Andres and last month the association filed a foreclosure lien on the Andres' home at 125 Doe Trail. Court-ordered fines and penalties have risen to about $30,000, Andres said.

The battle has attracted attention from around the world and helped prompt the governor and Legislature to collaborate earlier this year on the bill that prohibits associations from interfering with the rights of property owners to fly American flags from portable poles "in a respectful manner."

Andres said his flagpole is about 12 to 13 feet high, is removable and portable as the law requires, and is stuck in an anchor made of PVC pipe.

In his May 28 letter, Bush referred to the retroactivity of the new law, meaning that it was crafted to address grievances cited before the law's passage.

"The intent behind this law was specifically to remedy situations such as yours. The bill is retroactive in effect to provide as much assistance for you and other homeowners facing similar difficulties as possible," Bush stated.

Steven Selz, the West Palm Beach attorney representing the association board, has said the law does not rescind prior legal actions or court rulings. On Thursday, Selz declined to comment on the Bush letter, citing the ongoing legal proceedings. The case against Andres and his wife, Ann, is being pursued, he said.

A hearing on the foreclosure filing is planned for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday before Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Edward H. Fine.

"This is great," Andres, 64, said this week in response to the governor's three-paragraph letter. "He's really tried to help us."

Andres' Boca Raton attorney, Barry Silver, said although he's pleased with the governor's strong support, "that does not deter the association in the least. They couldn't care less if the governor, the president or the pope thinks they're wrong; they're pursuing it full steam."

Silver said he plans to file motions in the near future to have the case against Andres dismissed because of the new law. Silver said he also will pursue Andres' suit against the association for "bringing shame and embarrassment" to the entire Indian Creek community.

Despite the foreclosure suit, Andres said he plans to celebrate Flag Day at his home from noon-2 p.m. on June 15, a Saturday.

June 14 is the national observance of Flag Day, but Andres said he is holding his gathering on Saturday because "most people are busy on a Friday.

"We thought this would be a nice way to celebrate the flag. I talked with my neighbors and they don't have any problems with it."

Hot dogs and American flags will be available, Andres said. "We're hoping to get a lot of veterans attending." 

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