Glenwood homeowners, HOA at odds over flag display
August 13, 2009
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Two Orchard Townhomes residents in West Glenwood Springs are at odds with their homeowners association board over regulations restricting placement and size of an American flag that can be displayed in front of their properties.
Russ Stephens, an Army veteran and former Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy, said the homeowner’s association board has singled him and neighbor Julie Robinson out for attaching their flag brackets to the exterior wall of their garage.
According to the homeowner’s association president Dave Heiberger, the brackets have damaged the exterior siding of the units, for which the cost of repairs are passed on to the 40 some homeowners who pay into the HOA each month. Or, the repair cost can be passed on to the individual owners who are reasonable for the damage.
However, the Orchard Townhome covenants do not stipulate that homeowners, or renters, cannot display an American flag, they just are not permitted to attach flag pole brackets to the front of their properties in an attempt to prevent any damage from occurring, Heiberger said.
“The holder on the garage is doing damage to the association property, so the other 40 homeowners pay for his failure to comply with the covenant,” Heiberger said.
Heiberger said that all residents have been permitted to display an American flags since the development was first built about 15 years ago. And, he said about 10 others, including himself, currently display American flags without violating the covenants. But it wasn’t until recently that the association changed the rules regarding placement. That change, Stephens said, happened only because he and Robinson decided to keep their flags up permanently.
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Stephens said that in the two years that he’s lived at Orchard Townhomes, he’s had his flag attached to the garage and has displayed it only around holidays like the Fourth of July and Memorial Day. He again put up his American flag, and another Army flag for the Fourth of July holiday this year. And while he removed the Army flag after the holiday, he said, he decided to keep the American flag up to support Robinson, who’s 20-year-old son Austin McKee was recently deployed to Afghanistan.
Robinson said that her son enlisted in the Army and left in January, that is when she initially put up her flag. Her son was deployed to Afghanistan at the end of July, and she wants to display her flag in support of her son and our country.
“I put it up the day he left and I’m not taking it down until he comes home,” she said.
A letter addressed to all Orchard Townhome residents dated Aug. 7, stated that “The Board has noticed damage to the siding of the buildings from flagpole brackets being mounted on the siding. As a result, the Board has voted to have all flagpole brackets removed from the buildings.”
The letter continued to explain that flags can be displayed on a post in the yard, but that it has to be easy to remove for mowing. The rules also dictate that a flag can be no larger than 2 by 3 feet; Heiberger said that the size ordinance is not new.
“[Stephens] doesn’t have to take it down,” Heiberger said. “He just has to change it out.”
Heiberger said that the association complies with all state and federal mandated laws concerning the display of an American flag and that the association is not infringing on the homeowner’s rights to display a flag.
According to the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005, any condominium or townhome association, cooperative association or residential real estate management association may not restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the American flag on the association member’s property, according to us.history.org.
However, the association has the right to enforce any “reasonable restrictions” pertaining to the time, place or manner of displaying the flag that are deemed necessary to protect a substantial interest of the homeowner’s association.
But Stephens thinks the board’s request is ridiculous.
“I think it’s unreasonable and ridiculous,” Stephens said. “There is nothing unreasonable about having a flag attached to your garage.”
Robinson and Stephens said that they will both keep their flags, which are larger than the permitted 2-by-3-foot flag dimensions as listed in the covenants, displayed on the front of their units.