It's more than a lawn ornament
New Taft bill says flagpoles can't be banned 
Article Courtesy of Cincinnati Enquirer
By Jon Gambrell

Posted 01-14-2003

MONROE - When Janet Benton moved into her home in Monroe, the first thing she did was to put up a flagpole to fly the red, white and blue.

"It was one of the first things I bought," the 68-year-old widow said. "My husband was in the Marines, and (the flag) gives me memories of him when it flies." 

Mrs. Benton set up the flagpole in May, shortly after moving into the Heritage Green development. But according to her, it wasn't until a notice came out in November that she learned there were restrictions on lawn decorations.

Following that notice, Mrs. Benton received a letter from Towne Properties Asset Management Co., the group running the development, telling her to remove the flagpole by Dec. 31. 

Stephen Hunt, attorney for Towne Properties, said Mrs. Benton owned only the land underneath her unit and perhaps a foot or two beyond that. 

Janet Benton stands near the flagpole in her front yard Wednesday in Monroe. 
"She placed the flagpole on land that is the association's property," Mr. Hunt said. "It could have been a flagpole, a fountain or anything. You aren't allowed to do that." 

Mrs. Benton, who said she asked if she could put a flagpole in her yard when moving in, circulated a petition to keep the pole.

Of the 27 residents in the development, 22 signed, she said. 

Mrs. Benton and the homeowners' association are negotiating to move the flag to Mrs. Benton's back yard. 

But for now, Old Glory is still flying in her front yard. 

"I'm so proud of (the flag) when I fly it," she said. "I think everyone ought to have one. It is a wonderful thing to support your country."

Meanwhile, the rules on flagpoles have changed for some homeowners in the future, under a law signed this week by Gov. Bob Taft. Sponsored by Rep. Tom Raga, R-Mason, after a similar flag controversy in a Warren County community, the bill says flagpoles can't be banned by homeowner associations. 

"Through our research, we discovered that flags fell into the same codicil as pink flamingos," Mr. Raga said. 

The law takes effect in 90 days and would apply to future housing developments. However, it is not retroactive.