Flagpole foes unmoving; petition drive to begin
Article Courtesy of  The Virginian-Pilot
Posted December 12, 2002
For now, the controversial flagpole on Leyton Place will come down. 
But Sally Parrott, a Navy commander's wife who started a battle over her right to display the American flag on a pole in her front yard, will be joined by neighbors in a door-to-door petition drive to have the architectural guidelines of the 1,400-home subdivision of Burbage Grant changed. 

 About 25 homeowners in the predominantly military community in northern Suffolk packed into the Burbage Grant Owners Association office in Portsmouth Wednesday night to protest the issue in a meeting that lasted nearly two hours. 

A flag -- any flag -- can be flown from a staff attached to the front of homes in Burbage Grant, the owners' association's regulations say. Flagpoles -- no matter how nicely landscaped and no matter what flag they display -- aren't allowed, the board says. 

After a lengthy private session with the board at Wednesday night's meeting, Parrott said that board members expressed their feelings 

Sally Parrott and her husband have received letters of violation from the Burbage Grant Homeowners' Association over a 10-foot flagpole in front of their Suffolk home.
that news stories about the neighborhood battle had confused the issue. 

"They feel attacked,'' she said. "They think we're calling them unpatriotic. They say -- rules are rules. We have to take the flagpole down.'' 

It's not the flag, it's the pole, board president John Countryman Sr. said. Homeowners are allowed up to one decorative flag per lot, he said, provided the pole is mounted on the front of the house. No free-standing flag poles are allowed. 

"Our board is definitely not against the American flag,'' he said. "Four of the six board members are either military or retired military. I'm retired from the Air Force.'' 

But it is about the flag, Parrott said. It's about being allowed to display the American flag prominently and properly. No other flag demands the dignity of a pole, she said. 

"I'm really feeling like it's not my community,'' said Stephany Pike, who will join Parrott's petition drive. "It's their community. I'm very disappointed in the board.'' 

Tracy Ralphs, Parrott's Leyton Place neighbor, said he objected to the board's "arrogance'' about the issue. 

"They are doggedly sticking to their guns on this,'' he said. Parrott said she'll take her flagpole down until the issue is resolved. She hopes to collect at least 200 signatures in the petition drive. The board has promised a "timely'' decision. 

The Ohio native could be assessed a fine of $10 a day since mid-November, when she was first notified that her flagpole violated community rules. She expects to hear the board's decision about that in seven days, she said. 

Parrott is bent on changing the rules. 

"We are a military community, and this country is currently involved in a war on terrorism,'' she said. "We're in a more patriotic mode today than we were 10 years ago, when these rules were written.'' 

Suffolk homeowner fights to keep U.S. flag flying
Posted December 5, 2002 

SUFFOLK -- While her husband has fought terrorism overseas, Sally Parrott finds herself in a different battle in the front yard of her home. 

Parrott is defending her 10-foot flagpole, which is surrounded by landscaping and a red brick border and flies the American flag. 

The Burbage Grant Owners Association has asked the Parrotts to take down the flagpole or risk a fine of $10 per day. According to neighborhood architectural guidelines, residents can only fly flags from mounts on houses, not flagpoles. 

The Parrotts have received three letters warning of their violation but with support from their neighbors, they're not budging. 

"This is so People's Republic of China,'' said neighbor Tracy A. Ralphs, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve who also works in military intelligence. ``He's defending the flag, and they won't let him fly it in this manner.'' 

Parrott's husband, a 19-year Navy veteran, was on duty in the Arabian Gulf on Sept. 11, 2001. His ship fired some of the first strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan. 

The Parrotts asked that he not be identified while Sally Parrott takes on the fight for their flag. 

"It's beyond ridiculous. You can burn a flag, but you can't fly one,'' she said. ``This is a different world now. It's an honor and a privilege to fly the flag.'' 

Parrott said she and her husband had flown flags from a mount on the porch, but thorny rosebushes kept tearing them up. Parrott thought of removing the bushes, but that would have required permission from the homeowners association. 

The Parrotts were unaware of the association's rule when they erected the flagpole in May, she said. She is scheduled to meet with the association's board of directors on Wednesday and plans to offer a compromise that involves taking down the flagpole whenever the flag is not being flown. Some flagpoles can be slipped into an underground sleeve with ease, Parrott said. 

The association's guidelines are intended to protect property values in the 1,400-home development, said John Countryman, association president. 

"Everybody is the same as far as architecture,'' he said. ``Imagine if we allow it, and all 1,400 houses decide to put up a flagpole.'' 

Residents and homeowners' associations have clashed elsewhere over patriotic displays. 
In Newport News, Jim Sumner Jr. had to remove a flag made of electric lights from the roof of his Kiln Creek condominium about a year ago. Last year, a Henrico County Circuit Court judge ordered Richard J. Oulton to pay $82,000 to his homeowners' association after a two-year legal battle over a 25-foot flagpole