FLYING "OLD GLORY" ?
NOT IN TENNESSEE?
Posted Thursday, 4-10-2003
Come July 4, Franklin resident Michael Beckett envisions raising an American flag up a new flagpole in the front yard of his home in Fieldstone Farms.
The state Senate gave his vision a boost yesterday, approving a bill that would prohibit homeowner associations from banning flagpoles in yards.
Beckett got into trouble with the Fieldstone Farms Homeowners Association for erecting a 20-foot flagpole after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
''I think it's our right to display the American flag and the flag of Tennessee,'' said Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, bill sponsor. The bill only covers the U.S. and Tennessee flags.
Beckett defied the homeowners association's rules against flagpoles in yards — they permit flagpoles attached to homes — until he faced a stiff fine and took the pole down.
''I don't want a small group of people telling me how, when, where and why I can fly the most recognized symbol of freedom in the world,'' said Beckett, who works in corporate communications for Saturn in Maury County.
But Jack Beaudoin, president of the Fieldstone Farms Homeowners Association, said Beckett is the one who is bypassing the desires of the majority by getting legislation passed.
Residents who purchase homes in the development do so partly because covenants ensure an ''attractive, harmonious physical environment,'' Beaudoin said, saying the legislation takes away ''the majority's right to self determination.''
Beckett had the opportunity to change association rules by getting signatures on a petition but did not, Beaudoin said, noting that resident sentiment appeared against flagpoles.
A straw poll taken at an annual meeting of the association with about 100 residences in attendance showed no support, other than Beckett and his wife, for changing the rules, Beaudoin said.
Beckett contended that only about 30 people out of 2,200 homes in the development attended.
The bill is scheduled for a House subcommittee meeting on Tuesday.