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Condo Sends Note To Soldier Saying He Must Take American Flag Down

Posted by on Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:03 AM
  • 99 Replies

Condo Sends Note To Soldier Saying He Must Take American Flag Down

Posted on: 10:57 am, February 26, 2013, by and , updated on: 11:41pm, February 26, 2013

The Patriot Guard stands with American flags outside of Stepping Stone Apartments in Huntsville on Tuesday. (Photo: David Wood, WHNT News 19)

Protesters stands with American flags outside of Stepping Stone Condominiums in Huntsville on Tuesday. (Photo: David Wood, WHNT News 19)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A request to remove an American flag has caused an Internet uproar and a Facebook sharing frenzy.

A soldier and his wife who live at Stepping Stone Condominiums in Huntsville said they received a note from the complex Monday evening to remove the flag.  The note said the flag violates the home owners association bylaws, and urged the couple to remove the flag as soon as possible to keep the community tidy. HOA Letter

Note sent to the couple on Monday by the Homeowners Association

The sharing of the notice by Staff Sergeant Brandon Weir on several veteran advocacy Facebook pages created a viral internet uproar. The story garnered hundreds of likes, shares and comments within minutes on WHNT News 19′s Facebook page. When a local group of concerned patriots caught drift of the debate they decided to congregate in front of the home and form a flag line in peaceful protest.

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WHNT News 19 spoke with the Stepping Stone Association President and property manager Carol Coffey who said she has been flooded with emails and phone calls about the situation, all in support of the soldier.  She said some of the emails were threatening in nature but ensured this was not an attack on the American Flag.

“I served in Afghanistan, I served in Iraq and I served in Kuwait. I am not anti-veteran and I am not a communist,” Coffey said staunchly.

The flustered Coffey says the member of their management team who delivered the flag removal request was unaware at the time of The Right to Display The American Flag Act of 2005.

“Federal law says that anybody can fly an American flag on their personal property and we agree with that,” Coffee says. “The only thing our manager did was send a letter on our behalf going by the bylaw saying that stuff on the outside is not allowed and that’s true.”

The Stepping Stone Condominium Association bylaws state units can have no outside decoration or adornment on the units. But do residency rules trump federal law?

The Right To Display The American Flag Act of 2005 states a condominium, cooperative or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy or enter into any agreement that would restrict or prevent a member from displaying the flag of the United States. The act does however, contain limitations to protect condominium associations in some instances. Coffey says the association bylaws are in place to maintain property value and a certain continuity among the units they call an asset to all 126 tenants.

“In order to maintain the integrity of that asset we have certain rules because people could put anything out here if we let them.”

The property manager said she realizes there are laws that protect the right to fly the American flag, but said those are for private property. She said this was not private property, because the condos are owned by a community of people.

The property manager says Sergeant Weir’s in-laws are the owners of the condo.

The couple who displayed the flag has not commented on camera yet.

“I think they are persecuting us without knowing all the facts,” Coffey said. “And here’s one thing that really bothers me, she continued,  ”this person got the letter from our management team and instead of coming to the board and expressing his concern he went and posted something on two or three veteran’s sites without all the information and without us knowing anything about it and now we’re being threatened–that’s not right.”

Members of the community who showed up at the property in protest left several American flags staked around the home of Brandon and Lauren Weir.

“We are considering–because I don’t think it looks that bad,” concluded Coffee, ” making a waiver to allow a certain amount [of flags] within a certain number of units. We haven’t done that yet–we’re just considering it.”

When WHNT News 19 left the condos late Tuesday afternoon the Weir flag–and its new companion flags–were still flying.

source

by on Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:03 AM
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Replies (1-10):
IhartU
by Gold Member on Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:08 AM
3 moms liked this

 They live there, they should follow the rules and that includes the one about flags.

isaiahsmomma86
by on Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:10 AM
These were rules when they moved in, no?
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katy_kay08
by on Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:11 AM
4 moms liked this

I think the condo management team is not interpreting the law correctly as they will have to show how the removal of the flag protected "substantial interest" to the association.  As for her reading that it pertains to "private property" the law was specifically written for condo owners/residents and makes no mention of "private property". 

    A condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.

katy_kay08
by on Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:12 AM
2 moms liked this

the rule may be in violation of Federal Law.  

Quoting IhartU:

 They live there, they should follow the rules and that includes the one about flags.


romalove
by Roma on Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:12 AM
1 mom liked this

Asking someone to keep to the rules of the community they live in, and agreed to, is not anti-American.

American flags, religious symbols, whatever floats your boat doesn't get a pass because "you" love it.

I personally could never live someplace that proscribed how I could express myself, and choose not to.


poietes
by Bronze Member on Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:13 AM
While I personally think this is stupid and he should be able too. If you choose to live in a hoa you have to follow their rules. That is why we moved out of town completely so we dont even have to worry about city covenents.
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romalove
by Roma on Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:13 AM


Quoting katy_kay08:

I think the condo management team is not interpretting the law correctly as they will have to show how the removal of the flag protected "substantial interest" to the association.  As for her reading that it pertains to "private property" the law was specifically written for condo owners/residents and makes no mention of "private property". 

    A condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.

Interesting.  Where is this law?  Is it federal or state?

And I wonder....if you put up a flag somewhere and it caused a trip hazard, or was in the way of people moving about (for instance, stringing a flag banner across a walkway, or putting up a flagpole precariously where it could fall) if that would still have to be OK due to this ordinance.

frogbender
by Captain Underpants on Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:15 AM
1 mom liked this

Look, it is a bylaw. A stupid one, but still a bylaw. I don't get why people like living in condos anyway or any place that has a home owner's association. Obviously, if you are living in a place with a home owner's association, they are more than likely to have some really stupid bylaws. Duh.

katy_kay08
by on Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:16 AM
2 moms liked this


Quoting romalove:


Quoting katy_kay08:

I think the condo management team is not interpretting the law correctly as they will have to show how the removal of the flag protected "substantial interest" to the association.  As for her reading that it pertains to "private property" the law was specifically written for condo owners/residents and makes no mention of "private property". 

    A condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.

Interesting.  Where is this law?  Is it federal or state?

And I wonder....if you put up a flag somewhere and it caused a trip hazard, or was in the way of people moving about (for instance, stringing a flag banner across a walkway, or putting up a flagpole precariously where it could fall) if that would still have to be OK due to this ordinance.

It's a Federal law and it pertains only to the American flag.   The law contains an exclusion so things that would pose a hazard would more than likely fall into that "substantial interest" area.  

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/109/hr42/text

SEC. 3. RIGHT TO DISPLAY THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES.

    A condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.

SEC. 4. LIMITATIONS.

    Nothing in this Act shall be considered to permit any display or use that is inconsistent with--

      (1) any provision of chapter 1 of title 4, United States Code, or any rule or custom pertaining to the proper display or use of the flag of the United States (as established pursuant to such chapter or any otherwise applicable provision of law); or

      (2) any reasonable restriction pertaining to the time, place, or manner of displaying the flag of the United States necessary to protect a substantial interest of the condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association.

jllcali
by Jane on Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:16 AM
Associations such as this have bylaws clearly outlined. The front yard or porch is often considered to be communal, as the association pays for maintenance (through fees of course) of the area and residents are often not allowed to work on their own front yards. Some do not allow kids to play in their own front yard. This is one reason why I absolutely refuse to ever live in. a community with a homeowners association.
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