Suffolk man challenges community flag restrictions

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Suffolk man refuses to take down his American flag, despite a homeowner’s association asking him to do so.

“This is something that shouldn’t be happening here in Hampton Roads,” Daniel Toner said.

Toner rents his home in Suffolk’s Belmont Park. He told WAVY.com he was aware the community had regulations regarding flags. He said he reached out to property management, Chesapeake Bay Management, Inc., to inquire about the regulations.

Toner has an email from the property manager saying he was allowed to fly a flag off his porch, if he followed guidelines. On Monday, he received another letter from the property manager.

“Then I got that letter in the mail saying that I had to take it down until they passed a resolution saying it was okay to have a flag holder on the front of your house,” Toner said.

In the letter, property manager Kimberly Katz said she misspoke in the earlier email and the flag holder resolution has not been adopted yet. She asked him to take it down until the resolution was officially adopted. Katz said a resolution is expected to be adopted in July.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Toner said.

Toner has strong feelings on the topic because he is an Army veteran, who served in Iraq. He feels he and his neighbors should be able to fly the American flag no matter what.

Chesapeake Bay Management President Dana Shotts-Neff talked to WAVY.com over the phone on Tuesday. She said the Belmont Park Owner’s Association has, “no intention of denying anyone the right to fly the American flag.”

Shotts-Neff said a flag holder is considered an alteration to a home, and residents need to apply for alterations.

Toner said, in all his communication with the management company, he has never been told he needed to apply to install a flag holder. He added, he doesn’t believe it’s something anyone should have to apply for.

“You shouldn’t even have to ask permission to have an American flag on your property,” Toner said. “That’s a right according to Congress.”

Congress passed the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act in 2005. The legislation gives an individual the right to fly the American flag, despite a community’s restrictions. However, the bill does give a homeowner’s association the ability to restrict “time, place, or manner of displaying the flag.”

Toner said he has no intention of taking his American flag down. “That flag is staying right where it is,” he said.

Belmont Park’s website said Chesapeake Bay Management took over management of the neighborhood in late 2014.

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