Only Stars and Stripes to fly in Windermere
The Home Owners Association unanimously decides that foreign banners, and even U.S. military flags, are no longer allowed.

Article Courtesy of St. Petersburg Times
Posted April 8, 2004 

INVERNESS - All flags that are not U.S. flags must come down in Windermere, including a previously approved U.S. Marine Corps flag, the Windermere Garden Villas Home Owners Association unanimously agreed Tuesday night.

If non-American flags are not removed by noon Friday, the group said it would refer the matter to its attorney, and the offending resident would be responsible for legal costs.

During a special meeting Tuesday, the seven-member board considered the case of one non-American flag: Louise Hogberg's Australian flag, which hangs outside her home on Balmoral Court.

In February, the board denied the request of Hogberg - a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born and raised in Australia - to continue flying an Australian flag outside her home. Hogberg appealed, which led to Tuesday's meeting.

The board's denial of Hogberg's flag came after the group had given another resident the go-ahead to continue flying a Marine Corps flag. The retired Marine lieutenant colonel declined to comment Wednesday afternoon on the board's most recent decision, which would require him to take down his flag.

The community's covenants state that no flag can be displayed on the exterior or windows of a dwelling without the written consent of the board - except for the American flag, measuring a maximum of 3 by 5 feet.

After the board president gave a chronology of events, the discrepancy of the two decisions - the approval of the Marine Corps flag and the denial of the Australian flag - was debated by Hogberg, the board and other Windermere residents at Tuesday's meeting, which attracted about 40 residents.

"Is the U.S. Marine flag an American flag by definition?" resident Richard Bokus asked the board.

"No," board and audience members answered.

"The board has created a slippery slope," Bokus said.

At one point, board secretary Art McKinney asked: "If you let one, then why not the other?"

Board members defended their earlier denial of Hogberg's request, saying that the only issue they were considering was a flag that is not American.

"This is not about the Australian flag. It's about a flag that happened to be Australian," said board president Gene Mason, who was absent at the February meeting, during which the board denied Hogberg's request.

When Hogberg had the floor, she called the board's denial discriminatory against her flag and birth country. She said the special meeting was pointless, anticipating another rejection. She said this was the first time she has been told to take down her flag.

"I don't know why this is happening here," Hogberg said.

"Australia has nothing to do with it," said one board member, Gerritt Van Den Thoom.

"It certainly seems that way to us," said Hogberg, who wore an Australian flag T-shirt and sat a table between her lawyer friend and husband. On the table sat a stuffed koala bear holding a small Australian flag. This week, Hogberg said she has been inundated with calls and e-mails from fellow Australians and Australian media.

Hogberg was disappointed by the board's decision Tuesday night. On Wednesday, she said she planned to take down both her Australian and American flags Friday. They've always been together, she explained.

But she added: "There will be an Australian flag somewhere."

Please read our other articles by clicking here!