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August 23, 2016

Warrenton HOA removes controversial flagpole

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
“Everyone liked it,” Nancy Moore said of her flag on a 18-foot pole.
If we allowed this flagpole, what’s to say another neighbor can’t put up an ISIS flag.
— Al Putnam, Villas at the Ridges Homeowners’ Association president
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Ending a six-month dispute, the Warrenton condominium owners’ association last Thursday removed a white, 18-foot tall flagpole from a Villas at the Ridges common area.

Nancy Moore, who lives at 256 Onyx Way, installed the flagpole last September.

Mrs. Moore said she erected the pole to display the American flag to honor veterans and the men and women who serve this country.

But, placing the flagpole in a common area violated the bylaws of the 119-unit condominium community at Walker Drive and Academy Hill Road.

The three-member association board on July 26 denied Mrs. Moore’s request for an “exception” that would allow the pole to remain in the common area.

Upon receiving formal notice of the board’s decision, Mrs. Moore had 10 days to remove the flagpole.

Board President Al Putnam said granting exception might set unwanted precedent.

“If we allowed this flagpole, what’s to say another neighbor can’t put up an ISIS flag” in a common area?

The board also denied Mrs. Moore’s request for an extension that would allow her to consider options.

The association gave her no warning of the pole’s removal, according to Mrs. Moore.

“I believe I should have been given notification they were removing it,” she said in a text message. “I am disappointed.”

“She had six months to take action,” Mr. Putnam said Tuesday. “Enough’s enough.”

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Jim Griffin · August 30, 2016 at 5:42 pm
There is a path here to better wireless connectivity. Telcos can erect all the wireless towers they want if only they have American flags flying proudly from atop them, obeying the rules for flying flags.

Indeed, why use only one where three could be built just as easily? Vigor promoting patriotism is no vice, moderation no virtue.
juan cardenas · August 30, 2016 at 5:33 pm
The legal side of this case seems pretty simple. The owner erected the pole in the common area owned by the Association and didn't seek prior approval from its Board. No one has the right to use property that they don't own for an installation of that nature. I'm curious why the owner didn't erect the flag pole on her own property. That action would have created more interesting legal issues.
BJ · August 27, 2016 at 2:03 pm
Is it proper to fly the U.S. flag at night? Did Mrs. Moore have this flag illuminated at night by some means, or did she take it down at dusk and raise it at dawn? Moot point now as it is gone, yet most people do not know they are to have a light shining on the flag at night if it is not taken down at dusk.

The Flag Code states it is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flag staffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness. The American Legion interprets “ proper illumination” as a light specifically placed to illuminate the flag (preferred) or having a light source sufficient to illuminate the flag so it is recognizable as such by the casual observer.
BJ · August 27, 2016 at 4:14 am
In this case, ignorance was not bliss.
Jim Griffin · August 26, 2016 at 9:37 pm
Understandable homes on the market under $500k reflect a higher instance of HOA affiliation, nor is it a surprise if they stay on the market longer. After all, they carry the extra HOA fee and have reduced flexibility. And there are alternatives, even under $500k, that include buying land and building.

If you were right, by the way, there would be no Fauquier remaining to preserve, so beset was it already by development, but a look at the map makes it obvious that is the illusion -- though it does depend upon where in the county you look.

Finally, what would we do if we wished differently? Dissolve voluntary associations? Undo countless deeds? Substitute the judgment of government for contractual agreements?
mcm37 · August 26, 2016 at 5:53 pm
I just looked up homes for sale in Warrenton under $500k. Of the first 20 homes, only three had no HOA and one of those was a teardown. And if you want a home built in the past 20 years, out of about 30 available homes, there are exactly two with no HOA.
Jim Griffin · August 26, 2016 at 10:49 am
I do not agree that non-HOA housing options are "very limited" or an "illusion" in Fauquier County. There are many alternatives and they are not theoretical. I'll bet non-HOA housing outnumbers HOA housing by a wide margin, and where it is absent it is because a land owner chose to impose an HOA as a condition of sale, which is their right.

It is also very American to voluntarily band together in a democracy-oriented association to address common issues such as trash disposal, road clearing and common maintenance.

Consider the commercial real estate market. You buy/build or lease. Find me a lease that permits unauthorized flagpoles in common areas, nor is there an elected board to which you may appeal. Should this be outlawed, too? It's arguably worse than an HOA, and yet your options -- buy/build your own office/retail site -- are very much more limited.

Ultimately, free markets are about choice and we have it. Many alternative arrangements, all voluntary.

Quite the topsy-turvey environment when "conservatives" advocate government limit the rights of citizens in the name of "protecting" them. It is substitution of judgment just the same as when "liberals" do it.
mcm37 · August 26, 2016 at 10:34 am
Jim, theoretically you're right. But the reality is that in many places, nearly every home is subject to an HOA, and if you don't want to live in an HOA community, your housing options are very limited. So that freedom is somewhat of an illusion.
Jim Griffin · August 26, 2016 at 9:23 am
HOA's owe their existence to freedom of contract and freedom of association, both cherished American rights.

Advocating that we get rid of HOAs is anti-American. No one is compelled to join an HOA or pay them money. It is purely voluntary, the exercise of constitutional rights for which veterans gave their lives.

If you do not want to join or pay an HOA, don't move into a property that has one.
mcm37 · August 23, 2016 at 5:02 pm
I bet this has less to do with fear of someone putting up an ISIS flag than it does with the fear of someone putting up something more controversial, like a rainbow flag or a Confederate flag, and then the HOA having to upset people either taking it down or leaving it up.
draakken · August 23, 2016 at 2:26 pm
HOA = all the aggravation of the government, with none of the protections.

She moved into a place that has a group that makes the rules. She decided not to follow the rules. The rule makers enforced the rules. I don't see the problem.

Simple fix - If you don't like the rules, get elected and change them, or move.
Jim Griffin · August 23, 2016 at 12:18 pm
In part, the US is a great nation because it was built on property rights and respect for them.

Let those who criticize this decision include their address such that flags and other patriotic expressions may be erected by whomever wishes to do so, wherever they like, and in whatever manner they choose.
drew13price · August 23, 2016 at 11:18 am
This is absolutely despicable. The HOA should put another flag pole up and support the country and stop ripping the community down every chance they get. HOA's have long overstepped boundaries in American communities and need to be kept on a leash. The community should vote to erect a new one without violating the bylaws.
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