Monroe woman’s flagpole called ‘eyesore’
Article Courtesy of Middletown Journal
By Kevin Tucker
Posted 12-14-2002

MONROE — Should it stay or should it go now? 

A flagpole is the center of a controversy at the Villas of Heritage Green where its homeowners’ association is seeking the removal of the mast erected by a resident last spring. 

Janet Benton, 68, moved into a landominium at 65 Heritage Green Drive in April after having spent the past 11 years living in Nevada. Shortly after moving in, Benton said she entered into a verbal agreement with a representative from the managing agency of the development — Towne Properties Asset Management Co. — to erect a flagpole in front of her residence. 

“The developer said there was no reason why she couldn’t put a flagpole in, so I put it in myself,” Dan Paynter, Benton’s son and Monroe resident, said. “It’s a nice aluminum pole that’s lighted. It’s a real nice set up.” 

Benton’s late husband, Francis, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, flew an American flag at their previous residences and she brought the flag back with her from Nevada after his passing to continue the tradition. 

On Dec. 5, Benton received a letter from Towne Properties stating the land beautification committee of the homeowners’ association deemed the flagpole to be an “eyesore” and that it needed to be removed by Dec. 31, according to Paynter. 

If not, it would be removed at the owner’s expense. 

Benton received another letter from Towne Properties Wednesday informing her again that she needed to remove the pole by the end of the year as per order of the homeowners’ association. 

“I got really upset after receiving the letter,” Benton said. “I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights over this. I can’t understand the whole thing. I had a verbal agreement. I don’t plan on removing it.” 

Benton began Friday circulating a petition among residents at the development to allow her to keep the flagpole in front of her residence. 

Representatives from Towne Properties refused to comment when contacted by The Journal. 

“To me I can’t believe that any true American can say that a flagpole is an eyesore,” Paynter said. “It’s totally un-American.” 

Graham Parlin, associate vice president of Monroe Development, LLC, the development arm of the Villas at Heritage Green, said the flagpole was placed in common ground maintained by the association and therefore is in violation of the development’s covenants. 

“There is a clause restriction that prohibits flagpoles,” Parlin said. “American flags are allowed on the frontage of buildings, but we can’t allow residents to do whatever they want in an open space. It’s not an unpatriotic thing. It’s an aesthetic issue. She needs to go through the right steps which includes submitting a written request for permission.” 

He said it was most likely brought to the attention of the five-member board of trustees of the association — comprised of two residents, two representatives of Towne Properties and one representative of project builder, Williamsburg Homes — by fellow residents of the development. 

“If we start allowing residents to do certain things, that opens us up to lawsuits about what you can and cannot do,” Parlin said. “It’s common ground and technically it shouldn’t be there. She needs to abide by the rules that were set forth before purchase. We just want to make sure that all of our 180 residents has an enjoyable place to live. ” 

If the pole is removed, however, the converse will be true as life for her mother would be made less enjoyable, according to Trenton’s Vickie Risner. 

“She put the pole up in May or June, so why are they waiting until December to tell her it has to come down?” Risner asked. “It’s a ridiculous thing. This is something that’s very important to my mother.”