Article Courtesy of The
West Volusia Beacon
By Anthony DeFeo
Published August 6, 2019
DeLand veteran who served three tours in Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart was
dismayed to learn his neighborhood’s homeowners association was giving him grief
over flying the American flag.
Bruce Wasson, who
lives in the Victoria Gardens section of Victoria Park,
received a letter saying he needed to get a permit for the
flag that hangs near his front door, or risk a fine.
“An inspection conducted on July 25, 2019 showed the
following issue(s): Flag Requires Approval — Please submit
an application for the flag for [Architectural Review
Committee] approval,” the letter states.
The letter is from Evergreen Lifestyles Management, the
company running the Victoria Gardens HOA.
The letter angered Wasson, who served a total of nine years
between the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy and was awarded the
Purple Heart after being injured in a helicopter crash.
“I’m angry as hell. Especially after serving my nation,”
Wasson said. “Vietnam was useless, but my government sent me
there, and I served well. To have somebody tell me I can’t
fly the flag, after I bled for my country.”
Wasson is retired after serving as a Boy Scout chaplain for
37 years and as a hospital chaplain. He now serves as a
volunteer chaplain for his church, Volusia County Baptist in
He said the HOA is violating the federal Freedom to Display
the American Flag Act of 2005.
The law says HOAs, condo associations and other similar
groups may not “adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into
any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of
the association from displaying the flag of the United
States on residential property within the association.”
This photo shows the front of Bruce Wasson's home
inside Victoria Gardens during the July Fourth holiday. Normally,
the only flag he flies -- and the one that attracted the letter from
his homeowners' association -- is the one hanging from the pole near
his door. The flag-themed pinwheelis the subject of another letter
from the Victoria Gardens HOA, which claims it is "yard art"
Florida’s own state law regulating HOAs contains a similar provision, stating
residents may fly a U.S. flag or Florida state flag, along with a flag of one of
the U.S. military branches, “regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws,
rules, or requirements of the association,” as long as each flag is no larger
than 6 feet by 4.5 feet.
Wasson doesn’t believe his flag runs afoul of the law.
Clara Muņoz-Feliciano of Evergreen Lifestyles Management, the
community-standards administrator for the HOA, said the HOA has no problem with
Wasson having a flag, but required documentation.
“I issued a friendly reminder letter to Dr. Wasson regarding his flag and other
additional items he has on his property. We are well aware of the state
statutes,” she said. “The letter states to submit an ARC application for his
additions. We request this information so that we can document his additions and
place it in his lot file. We did not tell him to remove it.”
Michelle Saunders, who serves as Victoria Park community manager at Evergreen,
clarified that the application was just to verify that the size of the flag is
within the limits of the law.
“This is just for documentation and to verify the size of the pole and flag are
within the allowable limits as set by Florida Statute 720.304,” she said. “As an
Active Adult Community, Victoria Gardens has many veterans which we have the
highest respect for and hold several functions throughout the year to honor our
Wasson said he’s counted no fewer than 19 other American flags flying on his
street, and said the neighbors he’s spoken to haven’t been made to submit
applications for their flags, apart from those with stand-alone flagpoles in
In addition to the troubles around the flag at his own home, Wasson said he had
also noticed the flag in front of the Victoria Gardens clubhouse was not being
properly lowered to half-staff when necessary.
He took it upon himself to raise and lower it as needed — something he said the
clubhouse staff were thankful for — but he recently noticed a lock was placed on
the flagpole, so he can no longer do it.
Wasson thinks he may be getting singled out because of this or other disputes
with the HOA, including a lawsuit he filed over a portion of sidewalk where he
tripped in 2017. One section of the sidewalk is 4 inches higher than the next
section, because of tree roots growing under it, Wasson said.
“It’s still not fixed, and neither am I,” he said.
Wasson said he has consulted with his attorney about the flag letter, and
doesn’t plan to file the requested application with the HOA.