The next flag flap in Georgia?
Flag folly !
Oglethorpe Woods tries to reconcile bylaws with patriotic fervor 
Article Courtesy of the Savannah Now
By Scott M. Larson 
Posted Saturday, April 12, 2003

In times of war, dictators and patriotism go hand in hand. But that usually pertains to a land thousands of miles away, not a small subdivision next to Hunter Army Airfield.

"To me I felt like we had Hitler out here telling me that I could not fly the flag," said Florence Skinner, uber-patriot and resident of the Oglethorpe Woods subdivision.

Permission to fly U.S. flags outside of the roughly 40 houses in the subdivision sits in question. The homeowners association is now trying to balance the intent of the bylaws with the sense of patriotism during the country's war in Iraq.

Skinner wasn't willing to say who under the authority of the homeowners' association has put out the word that flags don't comply with the subdivision's bylaws. Those bylaws state that nothing is to be hung or displayed outside houses without prior written consent of the association.

It is unclear how the flag directive began, but likely it stems from a fight between the newly-elected homeowners' association president and a couple who have put a birdbath and windmill in the common area, allegedly against the bylaws. The couple, on the advice of their lawyer, declined to comment because of pending litigation over the issue.

"I'm not telling them they can't fly their flag," said Doug Coleman, first-year 

Flags and ribbons adorn the front of homes in the Oglethorpe Woods subdivision. The homeowners association bylaws state prohibit objects hanging from the fronts of houses.
president of the homeowner's association.

The dispute is with his predecessor.

The name tag from his job at a car dealership is pinned to his shirt. Glued to that is an American flag. Laced in his speech is exasperation that the incident has grown to this point.

"What I'm trying to do is clean up the area," Coleman said.

He admitted that he is embarrassed to tell people that flags don't conform with the subdivision rules.

He wants to clean up the area to enforce the bylaws and remove ornamental items from the front of houses. Someone told Skinner that one of her flags (she is currently displaying three in her front yard, plus yellow and red-white-and-blue ribbons) should be put in a pot and placed on her porch.

"I got angry that anyone would tell me that," Skinner said.

This whole incident is an overreaction, said Melissa Croke, vice president/secretary of the homeowners association and wife of Capt. Robert Croke, who is in Iraq with the 92nd Engineer Battalion from Fort Stewart.

"My husband is over there right now. If something is going to be offensive or upsetting, it's going to be upsetting to me," Croke said

"It was said that we needed to clear all things that were out there and that included lawn ornamentation. Doug said, 'I'm not going to tell you to take your flags down.' Those were the words he used."

Coleman is proposing that everyone get a uniform flag kit that he has found. It's a 3-by-5-foot flag with a pole. But a compromise has to be approved by the association.

In the meantime, confusion and anger reign.

Subdivision resident Sid Davis understands that the bylaws are designed to make sure nothing "trashy" sits outside of their home. But a flag is something different.

"Somebody came out and said, 'No you can't fly the flag,' " World War II veteran Davis said. "I told them they were a damn communist. I'm a veteran and I don't like that." 


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