PERSPECTIVE: Patriotism steamrolling flagpole bans 
Article Courtesy of the
Friday, June 14, 2002

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- For 20 years, Sidney Moore flew an American flag on the flagpole outside his home in Minnesota. So when he retired and moved to Ohio, he put up a flagpole at his new home. 

However, the housing association in his development said the flagpole violated a homeowners' agreement and had to be removed, he said. 

"They've lumped the flag in with bird baths and pink flamingos. I just didn't feel that was right," said Moore, a Vietnam veteran who has two sons who are veterans. "My main point is the flag is not a decoration." 

Moore was the inspiration for a bill that would prevent homeowner associations from banning flagpoles at new homes. No one testified against the measure during three days of hearings in the Ohio House, where the bill passed 93-0 last month. It is pending in the Senate. 

Some attribute a lack of opposition to the patriotic fervor generated by the terrorist attacks. 

"After Sept. 11, we all know how many flags appeared at homes around the country," said Ken Evans, trustee for the High Point Homeowners Association in the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville. "All of a sudden, it's very much in." 

The Ohio Association of Realtors has not taken a position on the bill because there has been no outcry from its members. 

But spokesman Carl Horst said the lack of opposition probably stems from potential opponents not wanting to be perceived as being against flying the flag after the attacks. 

"It just seems to be there's a sentiment across the state and the country that the symbol of the American flag stands for something important," Horst said. 

Moore, 64, put up his flagpole three years ago in Settlers Walk, a development in nearby Springboro. He said neighbors signed a petition saying they didn't object to the flagpole, but the association refused to waive the rule. 

When the group wouldn't put that decision in writing, he continued to fly his flag. And after the terrorist attacks, Moore contacted state Rep. Tom Raga, R-Mason, about changing Ohio law to prevent such bans. 

A phone message seeking comment on the ban was left for the Settlers Walk Housing Association. 

Raga said the bill would apply to housing developments built after the measure becomes law. The flagpoles would have to be for the sole purpose of flying the American flag. 

Scott Liberman, a Dayton attorney who represents homeowner's associations -- of which there are several thousand in Ohio -- said the general purpose of restrictive covenants is to protect property values by maintaining a uniform look. 

"When you buy a unit subject to these restrictions, it's not always a democracy," Liberman said. 

Evans said the High Point association allows flagpoles but bans fences, yard pools and the parking of commercial trucks in driveways. 

"The purpose of covenants isn't to be so restrictive that people can't do anything, but it puts some guidelines designed to keep things in a reasonable order," he said. "The dream is to create an environment that is pretty much the same." 

Similar incidents have occurred recently around the country: 

-- In May, the homeowner's association in the North Myrtle Beach, S.C., neighborhood of Fairway Oaks threatened to fine a man if he did not remove the American flag flying outside his rented townhouse. The issue was resolved when the association agreed to place a flag at the neighborhood clubhouse and allow residents to fly flags on holidays and Sept. 11. 

-- A couple in Harrison Township, Mich., were cited by the property manager for building a 27-foot-high flagpole out of plastic pipe at St. Clair Estates, a mobile home park. The property manager said the pole was dangerous and unsightly. 

Vince Squillace, executive vice president of the Ohio Home Builders Association, said his group did not examine the bill that closely because it did not seem to have any financial or operational impact on builders. 

"I do believe folks will look at this more as a patriotic issue than as an impingement on homebuilders' or homeowners' right to do something," he said.

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