Article Courtesy of the Savannah Now
Woods tries to reconcile bylaws with patriotic fervor
By Scott M. Larson
Posted Saturday, April 12, 2003
In times of war, dictators and patriotism
go hand in hand. But that usually pertains to a land thousands of miles
away, not a small subdivision next to Hunter Army Airfield.
"To me I felt like we had Hitler out here
telling me that I could not fly the flag," said Florence Skinner, uber-patriot
and resident of the Oglethorpe Woods subdivision.
president of the homeowner's association.
Permission to fly U.S. flags outside of
the roughly 40 houses in the subdivision sits in question. The homeowners
association is now trying to balance the intent of the bylaws with the
sense of patriotism during the country's war in Iraq.
Skinner wasn't willing to say who under
the authority of the homeowners' association has put out the word that
flags don't comply with the subdivision's bylaws. Those bylaws state that
nothing is to be hung or displayed outside houses without prior written
consent of the association.
It is unclear how the flag directive began,
but likely it stems from a fight between the newly-elected homeowners'
association president and a couple who have put a birdbath and windmill
in the common area, allegedly against the bylaws. The couple, on the advice
of their lawyer, declined to comment because of pending litigation over
"I'm not telling them they can't fly their
flag," said Doug Coleman, first-year
|Flags and ribbons adorn the front
of homes in the Oglethorpe Woods subdivision. The homeowners association
bylaws state prohibit objects hanging from the fronts of houses.
The dispute is with his predecessor.
The name tag from his job at a car dealership
is pinned to his shirt. Glued to that is an American flag. Laced in his
speech is exasperation that the incident has grown to this point.
"What I'm trying to do is clean up the
area," Coleman said.
He admitted that he is embarrassed to tell
people that flags don't conform with the subdivision rules.
He wants to clean up the area to enforce
the bylaws and remove ornamental items from the front of houses. Someone
told Skinner that one of her flags (she is currently displaying three in
her front yard, plus yellow and red-white-and-blue ribbons) should be put
in a pot and placed on her porch.
"I got angry that anyone would tell me
that," Skinner said.
This whole incident is an overreaction,
said Melissa Croke, vice president/secretary of the homeowners association
and wife of Capt. Robert Croke, who is in Iraq with the 92nd Engineer Battalion
from Fort Stewart.
"My husband is over there right now. If
something is going to be offensive or upsetting, it's going to be upsetting
to me," Croke said
"It was said that we needed to clear all
things that were out there and that included lawn ornamentation. Doug said,
'I'm not going to tell you to take your flags down.' Those were the words
Coleman is proposing that everyone get
a uniform flag kit that he has found. It's a 3-by-5-foot flag with a pole.
But a compromise has to be approved by the association.
In the meantime, confusion and anger reign.
Subdivision resident Sid Davis understands
that the bylaws are designed to make sure nothing "trashy" sits outside
of their home. But a flag is something different.
"Somebody came out and said, 'No you can't
fly the flag,' " World War II veteran Davis said. "I told them they were
a damn communist. I'm a veteran and I don't like that."