Court spares home in flag fight

Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post
Posted March 24, 2005

JUPITER George Andres, known around town as "the flagman," stood to lose his home after all the fights over the flagpole in his front yard.

A judge had ruled earlier that his home be foreclosed on and put up for auction to pay for legal bills rung up by the victorious homeowners' association.

Veteran George Andres took a Home Depot job to pay legal bills in his fight to fly the American flag in his front yard.

Wednesday, though, the Marine veteran stood before the neat duplex, in front of the croton bushes, ceramic elves and 20-foot flagpole, re-claiming his home as his own. This after the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the foreclosure order.

Andres, 68, chatted on the phone with Attorney General Charlie Crist, thanking him for his support, inviting him over for lunch again. Andres stared at Old Glory still flying as he talked.

"I never could have done it without you," he said to Crist. Crist, as well as Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature, have all backed Andres over the years.

The flag still flies after Andres' attorney, Barry Silver, successfully got a temporary court injunction to keep it up for now. Andres' homeowner association allowed for the flying of the flag, but required it be attached to brackets on the house a rule Andres refused to follow and began wracking up fines and legal bills.

It's a fight that began about five years ago.

"This flag is red, white and blue," said Silver on Wednesday, as he stood before it. "It is not white. George does not surrender."

Andres has been hailed by patriotic groups and politicians and had his story featured in media across the United States.

Crist issued a statement on the attorney general's Web site calling the ruling a "tremendous victory" not only for Andres but for the concept of property rights.

Silver called it a great victory for any person "harassed and persecuted" by their homeowners association.

The appeals court ruled that documents from the association called the Indian Creek Phase III-B association did not allow the homesteaded property home to be foreclosed on to pay legal bills.

The justices noted, though, that the association can use other ways to claim their fees $28,000 and running.

An association attorney did not return repeated calls for comment.

Meanwhile, Andres, a retired electrician, has taken a job at Home Depot, to earn extra money for his legal bills. He's spent about $100,000 thus far, he estimates.

Andres said he and his wife, Ann, didn't have a plan for what they would do if their home was sold out from under them.

"We were on the right side," he said. "I could not see us losing."

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