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Homeowners' association orders removal of historic banner from roof

Posted by on Aug. 31, 2010 at 9:47 AM
  • 37 Replies

Ariz. man battles neighbors over tea party-linked flag

Homeowners' association orders removal of historic banner from roof


By Marc Lacey
updated 1 hour 6 minutes ago

LAVEEN, Ariz — Don’t tread on Andy C. McDonel.

This year, Mr. McDonel began flying a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag on his roof in this unincorporated area just outside Phoenix. The historic banner — which dates to 1775, when it was hoisted aboard ships during the initial days of the Revolutionary War — has been adopted by the Tea Party movement. But Mr. McDonel said that he had unfurled the flag for its historical significance and nothing else.

He notes that the banner, the Gadsden flag, has been widely used over the years and was even featured on the cover of a rock album. “Am I a Metallica fan because I’m using the flag?” he asked.

This month, he received a letter from the homeowners’ association ordering him to remove “the debris” from his roof. It threatened fines if the debris (i.e., the flag) did not go within 10 days. But Mr. McDonel, 32, a logistics operation manager, has vowed to fight the order.

“It’s a patriotic gesture,” he said of his banner. “It’s a historic military flag. It represents the founding fathers. It shows this nation was born out of an idea.”

The Avalon Village Community Association, which sent the letter, takes a strict interpretation of the state statute that allows Arizonans the right to fly a variety of flags — the Stars and Stripes, the state flag, flags representing Indian nations as well as the official flags of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

The listing of acceptable flags stems from a dispute several years ago in nearby Chandler, Ariz., in which a woman with a son serving in Iraq was challenged by her homeowners’ association for flying the Marine Corps flag. State legislators intervened.

As Javier B. Delgado, a lawyer for the homeowners’ association, put it in a statement on the association’s Web site:

“Should the Arizona Legislature expand the Community Association Flag Display Statute to include the Gadsden Flag, the Association will accommodate Mr. McDonel’s desire to display it. Bottom-line, anyone considering residing in a community association should carefully review the association’s governing documents beforehand to ensure that the community is a good fit for them.”

'Grudge' 
Mr. McDonel knows the rules well since, until July, he was a member of his homeowners’ association’s board of directors. He resigned in a dispute with the board’s president and shortly thereafter received his first debris notice. That one concerned a treadmill that he had left on his porch, which he admits was a violation of the rules. His second debris warning, which came weeks after that, concerned the flag, which had been up for about six months.

“If this is a grudge, it’s sad that the funds that the homeowners put into the association are being wasted on such a petty matter,” Mr. McDonel said.

Mr. Delgado, whose law firm represents thousands of homeowners’ associations, denies that any dispute among board members led to the citation of Mr. McDonel’s property. “There is still the potential for dialogue on both sides,” he said, indicating that no fines had yet been levied.

The homeowners’ association represents a community of tract homes in what had been a sprawling agricultural area.

A survey of Mr. McDonel’s neighbors after the dispute drew the attention of the local news media revealed more concern about the television trucks that have been parking in front of his property than the flag flapping on his roof.

After Mr. McDonel’s standoff was picked up by the media, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona jumped in on Mr. McDonel’s side, arguing that homeowners’ associations do not have the right to “hijack” the free speech rights of their members. The A.C.L.U. fired off a letter to the association on Monday that seeks a meeting with Mr. Delgado to resolve the matter without going as far as a lawsuit.

“We’re urging the homeowners’ association to adopt a less limited interpretation of the statute,” said Dan Pochoda, the legal director for the civil liberties group. “The Gadsden flag meets the spirit of the law. It’s a historic military flag. Many consider it the original American flag, before the Stars and Stripes.”

As for the political significance that the flag has taken on in this election season, Mr. Pochoda was uninterested, saying that Mr. McDonel’s motivation for flying the flag was irrelevant to the dispute. “We didn’t ask him,” Mr. Pochoda said.

As the flag becomes more popular — it was on prominent display on the Washington Mall last weekend during a rally organized by the conservative commentator Glenn Beck — more such disputes are expected. Already, a Colorado homeowner flying the same flag is locked in a standoff with his homeowners’ association. And in Connecticut, a group of retired Marines is challenging the Capitol Police’s decision blocking the Gadsden flag from being flown over the State Capitol.

This story, " Homeowner’s Fight Involves Flag Tied to Tea Party," originally appeared in The New York Times.

Copyright © 2010 The New York Times

by on Aug. 31, 2010 at 9:47 AM
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Replies (1-10):
bupkie
by Member on Aug. 31, 2010 at 9:56 AM

Sad... just sad.....  Next thing you know, the Homeowners Association will be telling you what holidays to celebrate, and what color flowers you can plant....  

We don't even live in a "Homeowners Association" community, yet we have to have specific mailboxes.... we can't have our "own style"  no matter how nice!   It's a freaking mailbox!!!!  LOL!   Still not funny!  (We had changed ours - put in a Nice new one.... when we moved in, and got a picture and a legal notice in the mail to change it back within 10 days!  Back to the ugly green plastic one they had put in.... or they would take legal action!)    Good Grief!   

LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Aug. 31, 2010 at 9:58 AM
I LOVE the ACLU, but I am probably going to disagree with them here. If the HOA standards were set before McDick bought into this neighborhood, then too bad for him. And it sounds like he is fully aware of the HOA rules because he tried to get around the flag rules by putting the flag on his roof instead of a pole. I hate it when people claim their patriotism is being infringed upon because they want to go against their HOA.
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cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Aug. 31, 2010 at 10:01 AM

This is exactly why, when we were looking for houses, we refused to even consider anything in a neighborhood with a HOA. While they can be good in one respect, they also can be stupid pains in the asses, as in this case.

Joqui
by Joqui on Aug. 31, 2010 at 10:07 AM
I think this is stupid let him fly his flag... Heck my hoa is a pain in the ass but my neighbors can fly their confederate flags freely ... Though I sometimes worry about the image it gives the neighborhood who am I to say he can't fly it?
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Radarma
by Ruby Member on Aug. 31, 2010 at 10:08 AM

We have an HOA here and we are happy about it.

Sometimes it is a pain in the stucco, but for the most part, it keeps the neighborhood clean and happy.

There is a big dispute right now between neighbors because a new family moved in and they parked a junker car out on the street. Some residents are pissed, some residents are pissed at the residents who are pissed.

Anywhos...the HOA trumps his rights in this case. Sounds like he has a grudge and that is what this flag is truly about.

Aasiyah
by on Aug. 31, 2010 at 10:12 AM

.  those communites have laws that should be abided by but it doesn't mean that they can't come to a resolution. but this is p robably more about being picked on then the flag.. maybe? i used to live in a community and we co uldn't even change our curtains so it's probably more about the guidelines he bourght into but he knows this

smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Aug. 31, 2010 at 10:22 AM


Quoting bupkie:

Sad... just sad.....  Next thing you know, the Homeowners Association will be telling you what holidays to celebrate, and what color flowers you can plant....  

We don't even live in a "Homeowners Association" community, yet we have to have specific mailboxes.... we can't have our "own style"  no matter how nice!   It's a freaking mailbox!!!!  LOL!   Still not funny!  (We had changed ours - put in a Nice new one.... when we moved in, and got a picture and a legal notice in the mail to change it back within 10 days!  Back to the ugly green plastic one they had put in.... or they would take legal action!)    Good Grief!   

Some do have landscaping rules. I know my brother can't put up solar panels because of his HOA. I'm glad we live in the country. I don't want to have to be worried about being fined in the summer if my kids get sick while DH is out of town and the lawn doesn't get mowed for a week.

bakebiscotti
by on Aug. 31, 2010 at 10:30 AM

The ACLU to the rescue, I love my ACLU

Radarma
by Ruby Member on Aug. 31, 2010 at 10:43 AM


Quoting smalltowngal:

 

Quoting bupkie:

Sad... just sad.....  Next thing you know, the Homeowners Association will be telling you what holidays to celebrate, and what color flowers you can plant....  

We don't even live in a "Homeowners Association" community, yet we have to have specific mailboxes.... we can't have our "own style"  no matter how nice!   It's a freaking mailbox!!!!  LOL!   Still not funny!  (We had changed ours - put in a Nice new one.... when we moved in, and got a picture and a legal notice in the mail to change it back within 10 days!  Back to the ugly green plastic one they had put in.... or they would take legal action!)    Good Grief!   

Some do have landscaping rules. I know my brother can't put up solar panels because of his HOA. I'm glad we live in the country. I don't want to have to be worried about being fined in the summer if my kids get sick while DH is out of town and the lawn doesn't get mowed for a week.

Yes, we also have landscape rules. It's nice too because I am not all that fond of pink flamingos.


bakebiscotti
by on Aug. 31, 2010 at 10:56 AM

I would never live anywhere where they had a covenant. 

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