Jupiter 'Flag Man' turns personal battle into public advocacy

Article Courtesy of The Jupiter Courier

By Kit Bradshaw

March 26, 2005

George Andres, known as "Jupiter's Flag Man," is using his near six-year battle with the Indian Creek Homeowners Association to help others who are having problems with homeowners, condo and trailer park associations.

This week, Andres, 68, and his wife Anna learned that the 4th District Court of Appeal had ruled the Indian Creek Homeowners Association can't foreclose on his home to recover $20,000 in legal fees for their battle over the U.S. flag and flag pole he erected in his front yard.

"This battle has taught me that perseverance against homeowners associations who act like tyrants is the way to go," the former Marine said from his home in the Indian Creek subdivision, which now sports a 20-foot high flagpole and an American flag.

"Because of this experience, I'm now part of Cyber Citizens for Florida Justice, and I've been helping other people who have had problems with homeowners associations," said Andres. "We've gone to Tallahassee to get state laws changed, and last year we had the governor set up a task force to look into this situation with homeowners and condo associations.

"The state is finally taking the builders and the homeowners associations to task. Under one of the new laws, the homeowners association can't foreclose on you or put liens on your house for violating the homeowners' rules.

"We intend to keep moving on in the state to help people with these associations," he said.

Andres problems began in 1999 when he erected a 13-foot pole and put an American flag on it. According to Andres, he had received permission for the pole and flag when he had been a member of the homeowners association board from 1989 to 1998. However, a new board came in and told Andres he could only put up an American flag on his home, not in his yard.

"I told them, 'show me where there is an article in the bylaws prohibiting the flag being flown on a pole,'" he said.

The issue transcended Jupiter and became a cause celebre that reached national proportions and even brought support from Gov. Jeb Bush. In 2002, the Florida legislature passed a bill allowing a person to fly a removable American flag in respectful manner, regardless of homeowners association laws. Bush even went so far as to present Andres with an American flag that had flown over the state capitol building on Flag Day.

Andres said that as the controversy wound its way through the courts that the Indian Creek Homeowners Association finally said it didn't care any more about the flagpole, but it did want to recover the legal fees.

"I guess they realized that they had made a mistake when they did what they did with the flag," he said, "and then they tried to become the good guy and say they just wanted money for their lawyer. But now they've lost.

"They can appeal within 10 days, but the appeal will cost them a lot of money."

Attorneys for the homeowner's association declined comment.

Andres said that he has a temporary injunction against the homeowners association to keep flying his flag. Now, he said, he'll have his attorney get a permanent injunction.

Andres isn't the only one relieved to hear the news from the appeals court.

"It's a big load off my wife's back," he said, "when you are finally free of the garbage that's been going on for almost six years."

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