Does displaying an American flag in front of your home affect its value? Well, one condominium association in Huntsville, Ala., seems to think it does -- negatively. And that's why it's demanding that a soldier who lives there remove the American flag that he put up in front of his home, local station WHNT-TV reported.
The quiet complex of Stepping Stone Condominiums is in an uproar after resident and Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Weir received a note from its condo association saying: "Your flag attached to stairs has to be removed ASAP!" Stepping Stone contends that the flag display is in violation of its HOA's bylaws. But residents have rallied behind Weir and his wife, who are refusing to remove their flag. Carol Coffey, president of the Stepping Stone Association, said the rules against outdoor displays are in place to preserve property values -- it's not personal.
"I served in Afghanistan, I served in Iraq and I served in Kuwait," Coffey told WHNT. "I am not anti-veteran, and I am not a communist." Coffey said that since the story has gone viral (Weir posted the note that he received to multiple veteran-advocacy Facebook pages), she has received numerous phone calls and emails, some of them threatening.
Weir's supporters are making their case by pointing to The Right to Display the American Flag Act of 2005, which prohibits real estate associations from adopting any laws that prevent members from displaying the flag. However, the act does make certain exceptions for condominium associations. Coffey said Stepping Stone adopted its rules against outdoor displays of any kind because "people could put anything out here if we let them."
Still, a group of activists rushed to Weir's side, with several forming a flag line in front of the condominium in protest. Mark Hooper, one of the protesters, told WAAY-TV in Huntsville: "Because we are a group of patriots who support America and the American flag and all it stands for, we feel the flag should be displayed anywhere at any time." Weir and his family declined to speak on camera.
Coffey hasn't been too thrilled with the response to the condominium association's appeal to have the flag removed. "I think they are persecuting us without knowing all the facts," she said. "And here's one thing that really bothers me: This person got the letter from the management team, and instead of coming to the board and expressing his concern, he went and posted something ... without us knowing anything about it. And now we're being threatened. That's not right."
Coffey said that the HOA is now considering amending its rules allowing a certain number of flags to be displayed in front of a certain number of units. "We haven't done that yet -- we're just considering it," she added. This isn't the first time American flags have gotten homeowners and condo residents in trouble. A 75-year-old woman in New Jersey was being threatened with eviction last year by her senior housing complex after she hung three small American flags from her balcony. And in 2011, an Oregon vet's housing complex told him that he would have to leave if he didn't stop putting up American flags on Veterans Day.
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