Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Virginia Veteran Wins Battle to Keep His Flagpole in Yard

After reading about Col. Van T. Barfoot's fight with his home owners' association in Henrico County over the height of his flagpole, I was thrilled to read that he had won his fight!

For anyone outside Henrico County, here's the quick breakdown for you, courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dec 4, 2009: "In a five-paragraph letter to Barfoot that he received yesterday, Barfoot is being ordered to remove a flagpole from his yard. The decorated veteran of three wars, now 90 years old, raises the American flag every morning on the pole, then lowers and folds the flag at dusk each day in a three-corner military fashion...In a priority mail letter, the Coates & Davenport law firm in Richmond is ordering Barfoot to remove the pole by 5 p.m. Friday or face "legal action being brought to enforce the Covenants and Restrictions against you." The letter states that Barfoot will be subject to paying all legal fees and costs in any successful legal proceeding pursued by the homeowner association's board...There is no provision in the community's rules expressly forbidding flagpoles, Barfoot's daughter said. But she said the board ruled against her father's fixture and ordered it removed in July, deciding that free-standing flag poles are not aesthetically appropriate. Short flag stands attached to porches dot the community."

My immediate thought was, wow, what a bunch of douches! This man is a 90 year old veteran, a Medal of Honor recipient from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. My next thought is, damn, he's 90 years old...he might not be around for much longer. He's not hurting anyone, leave him and his flagpole be. I actually thought Col. Barfoot would be ordered to remove his pole.

But as Fox News reported earlier today: "[Barfoot] can keep his 21-foot flagpole in his front yard after a homeowner's association dropped its request to remove it, a spokesman for Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said Tuesday...The association had threatened to take Barfoot to court if he failed to remove the pole from his suburban Richmond home by Friday. It had said the pole violated the neighborhood's aesthetic guidelines." I'm guessing the HOA realized they wouldn't make any headway by forcing him to remove the flagpole, just because it didn't match the rest of the neighborhood. According to the Virginian-Pilot article, "It had said the pole violated the neighborhood's aesthetic guidelines."

Guidelines??? Col. Burfoot took all that shit over GUIDELINES? They weren't even actual HOA RULES!

Virginia is thick with a military population, both active duty and retired. Do you really want to alienate that type of homeowner out here? I think not.

I've never lived in an HOA. In fact, when we started looking at houses, we purposely avoided any that fell into that category, just for that reason. I don't what someone else telling me what I "can" and "can't" do with a house and property that I own and maintain. According to Association Times, "A homeowners association is an organization established to govern a private community. Typically it owns and manages some common property for owners of private houses or condominium/townhome units. By buying a lot and/or home, an owner automatically becomes a member of the homeowners association of which it is a part. Most homeowners associations are corporations established under the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law. A homeowners association is similar to other corporations – it is governed by a board of directors elected by the members and a set of rules called by-laws. Books and records of financial transactions must be kept, taxes paid, and certain services provided to members in accordance with the governing documents. Usually the board has an annual budget prepared to estimate expenses, and then assesses each member a share of the costs."

Meh, I don't see a need for all that, especially considering you have to pay more to live in those neighborhoods.

And let me give a little shout out to Sen. Mark Warner for getting involved with that. I was glad to hear about his support and the support of Jim Webb.

But Col. Burfoot also had loads more support. A Facebook page was started to show the local support for this man to keep his flagpole. I joined it tonight. It has more than 33,000 fans.

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