By JAMES HANNAH
Patriotism steamrolling flagpole bans
of the Cleveland.com
Friday, June 14, 2002
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- For 20 years, Sidney
Moore flew an American flag on the flagpole outside his home in Minnesota.
So when he retired and moved to Ohio, he put up a flagpole at his new home.
However, the housing association in his
development said the flagpole violated a homeowners' agreement and had
to be removed, he said.
"They've lumped the flag in with bird baths
and pink flamingos. I just didn't feel that was right," said Moore, a Vietnam
veteran who has two sons who are veterans. "My main point is the flag is
not a decoration."
Moore was the inspiration for a bill that
would prevent homeowner associations from banning flagpoles at new homes.
No one testified against the measure during three days of hearings in the
Ohio House, where the bill passed 93-0 last month. It is pending in the
Some attribute a lack of opposition to
the patriotic fervor generated by the terrorist attacks.
"After Sept. 11, we all know how many flags
appeared at homes around the country," said Ken Evans, trustee for the
High Point Homeowners Association in the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville.
"All of a sudden, it's very much in."
The Ohio Association of Realtors has not
taken a position on the bill because there has been no outcry from its
But spokesman Carl Horst said the lack
of opposition probably stems from potential opponents not wanting to be
perceived as being against flying the flag after the attacks.
"It just seems to be there's a sentiment
across the state and the country that the symbol of the American flag stands
for something important," Horst said.
Moore, 64, put up his flagpole three years
ago in Settlers Walk, a development in nearby Springboro. He said neighbors
signed a petition saying they didn't object to the flagpole, but the association
refused to waive the rule.
When the group wouldn't put that decision
in writing, he continued to fly his flag. And after the terrorist attacks,
Moore contacted state Rep. Tom Raga, R-Mason, about changing Ohio law to
prevent such bans.
A phone message seeking comment on the
ban was left for the Settlers Walk Housing Association.
Raga said the bill would apply to housing
developments built after the measure becomes law. The flagpoles would have
to be for the sole purpose of flying the American flag.
Scott Liberman, a Dayton attorney who represents
homeowner's associations -- of which there are several thousand in Ohio
-- said the general purpose of restrictive covenants is to protect property
values by maintaining a uniform look.
"When you buy a unit subject to these restrictions,
it's not always a democracy," Liberman said.
Evans said the High Point association allows
flagpoles but bans fences, yard pools and the parking of commercial trucks
"The purpose of covenants isn't to be so
restrictive that people can't do anything, but it puts some guidelines
designed to keep things in a reasonable order," he said. "The dream is
to create an environment that is pretty much the same."
Similar incidents have occurred recently
around the country:
-- In May, the homeowner's association
in the North Myrtle Beach, S.C., neighborhood of Fairway Oaks threatened
to fine a man if he did not remove the American flag flying outside his
rented townhouse. The issue was resolved when the association agreed to
place a flag at the neighborhood clubhouse and allow residents to fly flags
on holidays and Sept. 11.
-- A couple in Harrison Township, Mich.,
were cited by the property manager for building a 27-foot-high flagpole
out of plastic pipe at St. Clair Estates, a mobile home park. The property
manager said the pole was dangerous and unsightly.
Vince Squillace, executive vice president
of the Ohio Home Builders Association, said his group did not examine the
bill that closely because it did not seem to have any financial or operational
impact on builders.
"I do believe folks will look at this more
as a patriotic issue than as an impingement on homebuilders' or homeowners'
right to do something," he said.