Several residents in a Gulf Shores neighborhood are upset that they’re being asked to remove their flagpoles that are flying the American flag. The residents said the Home Owners Association (HOA) management group is denying building permits and fining them until their flagpoles are taken down.
Homeowners butting heads with their homeowners’ associations over flying the American flag is becoming more common across the country. The HOAs say it’s not about the flag, but the way it’s displayed. Homeowners, like a group of veterans who live in Craft Farms North in Gulf Shores feel it’s a personal attack on their patriotism and want clarity on why their HOA wants their flags to come down.
“It’s very confusing so I hired an attorney to try and be a mediator between us all and that’s helped somewhat, but there still is some confusion on what they say and what they do is two different things,” said homeowner and military veteran, Michael Perrow.
Perrow wants to display his American flag in a traditional way. His flagpole is in his backyard with his service flag flying under the Stars and Stripes. His neighbor, Daniel Ekberg is a two-time war veteran, who said he was shot at on a daily basis, risking his life for what the flag stands for. His flag is displayed in his front yard in a manner he said adheres to federal guidelines. For several months, both men said their HOA, Neighborhood Management, LLC out of Birmingham has been threatening them if the flagpoles don’t come down.
“It’s been five hundred and ten dollars from the time I put the flag up until now, on top of a two hundred-dollar initial fine equals seven hundred and ten dollars. Then, ten dollars a day,” Ekberg said of his fines. “I really don’t know what I’m going to do.”
The actions, submitted in writing from Neighborhood Management, LLC include the fines and for Perrow, denial of his permit to add a Florida room onto his home. The HOA hasn’t denied anyone the right to fly the American flag, but the neighborhood covenant states the poles must be attached to the home. With just that to work with, both men ran a bracket underground from the base of the flagpole and attached it to the house. They’re hoping Neighborhood Management, LLC will let the flagpoles stay.
“I do not want to use the American flag as a bargaining chip. I do not want to compromise,” Perrow said. “I do not feel that this display of this flag and this service flag is offensive to anybody.”
“I didn’t erect my flag to cause any trouble. I don’t want to fight with these people,” added Ekberg. “That was never my intentions, but they haven’t been able to tell me what I did wrong.”
Michael Perrow said the first letter he received denying his plan for the flagpole was postmarked on Veterans Day, which felt like a slap in the face.
In response to questions by Fox 10 News, Neighborhood Management, LLC issued the following statement regarding their standpoint on flagpoles in Craft Farms North:
"The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 restricts the ability of HOAs to prohibit its members from flying the U. S. flag on their own property. Under the Act, however, HOAs are permitted to place reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of the display.
Craft Farms North Property Owners’ Association, Inc. has always encouraged the display of the United States flag and military service flags in the community. Despite that, there was a historical prohibition against stand-alone flagpoles. In recent discussions, prior to your inquiry, the Association’s Advisory Board, which acts as the Architectural Review Committee and is made up of residents in the neighborhood, altered that policy to allow stand-alone flagpoles, subject to a few reasonable restrictions regarding design and location. Of the three flagpoles you’ve inquired about, one has been approved; the other two have not, but the Advisory Board, with the owners’ cooperation, is willing to continue to seek common ground with those residents to find acceptable flagpole design and location criteria."