Condo association tells vet to move his American flag

Condo association tells vet to move his American flag

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Homer Hampton was told his flag had to move because his front yard is a common element and is not owned by Hampton himself. Homer Hampton was told his flag had to move because his front yard is a common element and is not owned by Hampton himself.
Homer Hampton served more than 20 years in the Army as a Green Beret, including two tours in Vietnam where he earned the Combat Infantryman Badge and two Bronze Stars. Homer Hampton served more than 20 years in the Army as a Green Beret, including two tours in Vietnam where he earned the Combat Infantryman Badge and two Bronze Stars.
"I just say things like I believe it," said Homer Hampton, shown here with his wife. "I spent 21 and a half years in the military. I earned the right to fly that flag." "I just say things like I believe it," said Homer Hampton, shown here with his wife. "I spent 21 and a half years in the military. I earned the right to fly that flag."
"The common elements, it belongs to the association, it doesn't belong to us as an individual that's in our master deed and bylaws," Doris Stogner, a member of the condo association, said. "The common elements, it belongs to the association, it doesn't belong to us as an individual that's in our master deed and bylaws," Doris Stogner, a member of the condo association, said.
The couple has been told by their condo association's attorney that they have until the end of the week to remove the flag pole, the concrete pad and the electrical wiring or legal action will be taken against them. The couple has been told by their condo association's attorney that they have until the end of the week to remove the flag pole, the concrete pad and the electrical wiring or legal action will be taken against them.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Americans fly the flag whether they have served or not. On Veterans Day, we all pay tribute by displaying the red, white, and blue.

In Sevierville, a retired Army sergeant is being put to the test by his condo association.

He doesn't like the idea of someone telling him that the flag he's flying has to be taken down.

You can't miss Old Glory in the front of Homer Hampton's home. Last month, he installed a pole and even added lights to illuminate the flag at night.

Flying the flag would be no problem if Hampton didn't live in a Sevierville condo community where his homeowners' association is displeased with the flag's location.

"It's caused a lot of controversy," Hampton said. "They're saying it's on common ground."

Last month, Hampton received a letter from an attorney representing the Riverbend Gardens Homeowners' Association.

"We understand you have initiated the construction of a flag pole on the association's common elements, which is in violation of the master deed," Hampton said, reading from the letter.

According to the master deed, common elements include front yards of individual condo units at the development. Common elements are not owned separately.

The attorney's letter points out that Hampton has the right to display the flag on limited common elements.

"To heck with the common elements as far as I'm concerned," Hampton said in response.
    
To understand his point of view, you have to know Hampton. He served more than 20 years in the Army as a Green Beret, including two tours in Vietnam where he earned the Combat Infantryman Badge and two Bronze Stars.

"I just say things like I believe it," he said. "I spent 21 and a half years in the military. I earned the right to fly that flag."

Doris Stogner is a member of Hampton's condo association.

"Well it's in our bylaws that on the common ground we're not supposed to put anything on the common ground," Stogner said. "We're not asking for him to take the flag down we're just asking him to move it."

Stogner said Hampton could move the flag to a flower garden below a window in front of the condo or to the exterior wall right next to the front door - two areas that belong to homeowners.

"The common elements, it belongs to the association, it doesn't belong to us as an individual that's in our master deed and bylaws," Stogner said.

The HOA at the development isn't the only association where restrictive covenants are butting up against homeowner patriotism.

Eleven years ago, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the issue of restrictions of displaying the flag at condo developments received nationwide attention.

As a result of the uproar, Congress got involved and in 2005, the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act was approved.

Presently, the HOA at Riverbend Gardens is preparing new rules that follow the law.

In the meantime, retired Master Sgt. Hampton has his mind set.  

"It's gonna fly," he said. "It's going to fly, come hell or high water."

On Monday, the Hamptons had a deadline to face.

The couple has been told by their condo association's attorney that they have until the end of the week to remove the flag pole, the concrete pad and the electrical wiring or legal action will be taken against them.

The Hamptons were reminded they can display the flag in their garden or near the garage, the limited common elements.


If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email ddare@wate.com.

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