By Randall Murray Staff Writer
backs Jupiter flag flier fighting with HOA
Courtesy of The Jupiter Courier
June 7, 2002
Palm Beach County's "flag man," who is
facing foreclosure on his home for refusing to take down a U.S. flag, has
a fan in Tallahassee.
George Andres, the former Marine who has
been sued by his homeowners association over a 12-foot flagpole and American
flag he erected in his yard, received some encouraging words this week
from Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
In a letter to Andres signed by Bush, the
governor expressed support for Andres' ongoing legal dispute.
"Members of the Legislature and I were
shocked at the difficulties you confronted merely because you wished to
fly a small United States flag in front of your home," Bush wrote. "In
response, we crafted Senate Bill 148 to remedy these difficulties faced
by you and other homeowners."
Bush was responding to a letter Andres
sent him last month outlining his more than 18-month battle with the Indian
Creek Homeowners Association Phase III-B in Jupiter over the flag and pole.
The association board ordered Andres in October 2000 to take it down. He
refused, saying a previous board had given him permission for the pole.
He was taken to court. Two court decisions
went against Andres and last month the association filed a foreclosure
lien on the Andres' home at 125 Doe Trail. Court-ordered fines and penalties
have risen to about $30,000, Andres said.
The battle has attracted attention from
around the world and helped prompt the governor and Legislature to collaborate
earlier this year on the bill that prohibits associations from interfering
with the rights of property owners to fly American flags from portable
poles "in a respectful manner."
Andres said his flagpole is about 12 to
13 feet high, is removable and portable as the law requires, and is stuck
in an anchor made of PVC pipe.
In his May 28 letter, Bush referred to
the retroactivity of the new law, meaning that it was crafted to address
grievances cited before the law's passage.
"The intent behind this law was specifically
to remedy situations such as yours. The bill is retroactive in effect to
provide as much assistance for you and other homeowners facing similar
difficulties as possible," Bush stated.
Steven Selz, the West Palm Beach attorney
representing the association board, has said the law does not rescind prior
legal actions or court rulings. On Thursday, Selz declined to comment on
the Bush letter, citing the ongoing legal proceedings. The case against
Andres and his wife, Ann, is being pursued, he said.
A hearing on the foreclosure filing is
planned for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday before Palm Beach County Circuit Court
Judge Edward H. Fine.
"This is great," Andres, 64, said this
week in response to the governor's three-paragraph letter. "He's really
tried to help us."
Andres' Boca Raton attorney, Barry Silver,
said although he's pleased with the governor's strong support, "that does
not deter the association in the least. They couldn't care less if the
governor, the president or the pope thinks they're wrong; they're pursuing
it full steam."
Silver said he plans to file motions in
the near future to have the case against Andres dismissed because of the
new law. Silver said he also will pursue Andres' suit against the association
for "bringing shame and embarrassment" to the entire Indian Creek community.
Despite the foreclosure suit, Andres said
he plans to celebrate Flag Day at his home from noon-2 p.m. on June 15,
June 14 is the national observance of Flag
Day, but Andres said he is holding his gathering on Saturday because "most
people are busy on a Friday.
"We thought this would be a nice way to
celebrate the flag. I talked with my neighbors and they don't have any
problems with it."
Hot dogs and American flags will be available,
Andres said. "We're hoping to get a lot of veterans attending."