KILLEEN, Texas — A Fort Hood soldier is in a battle with the homeowner and the homeowner's association in the community where he rents for flying an American flag.
Sgt. Chris Link who lives in the Falls of Fox Creek community in Killeen said the feud started Wednesday when he received an email that he needed to remove a flag that was hanging on a pole in his yard.
According to an email KCEN Channel 6 obtained that was sent to Link from the HOA president on Wednesday, the community guidelines say that a flag that is displayed can’t be flown on a pole and can only be displayed four days a year: Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day and Flag Day.
Link was asked to remove the flag or face a violation.
“Please understand 90% of the homeowners are retired military and when the four days of the year that we can display our flags, we do. So, please remove the flag so there will be no violation sent out with a fine attached to it,” the email said.
Link said after he received the email he removed the flag from the pole and mounted the flag on the house with brackets.
He said he spoke with the HOA manager and advised her of the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 which states:
“A condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent an association member from displaying the U.S. flag on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.
“States that nothing in this Act shall be considered to permit any display or use that is inconsistent with: (1) federal law or any rule or custom pertaining to the proper display or use of the flag; or (2) any reasonable restriction pertaining to the time, place, or manner of displaying the flag necessary to protect a substantial interest of the condominium, cooperative, or residential real estate management association.” (Source:congress.gov)
Link said he was told by the HOA manager that in accordance with the act, he would not be fined.
He then sent an emailed response Thursday morning to the HOA president.
“Hello (redacted), I would like you to be aware that I spoke with the HOA manager, (redacted). I informed her of the freedom to display the American flag act of 2005. She informed me that she was not aware it was a federal law and that I will not be receiving any fines.
SEC. 3. RIGHT TO DISPLAY THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES.
“A condominium association, co
operative association, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.
SEC. 4. LIMITATIONS.
“Nothing in this Act shall be considered to permit any display or use that is inconsistent with--
“(1) any provision of chapter 1 of title 4, United States Code, or any rule or custom pertaining to the proper display or use of the flag of the United States (as established pursuant to such chapter or any otherwise applicable provision of law); or
“(2) any reasonable restriction pertaining to the time, place, or manner of displaying the flag of the United States necessary to protect a substantial interest of the condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association.
“In subparagraph 2 it does state that REASONABLE restrictions to time are allowed, however 4 days out of the year is not reasonable and will not stand up in court.
“(The HOA manager) informed me that she would inform you of the federal law that protects my right to fly the American flag. “
The HOA president responded, “You cannot display your flag. We have gone through this with a number of homeowners. Please remove it, or I will have your fine sent out today.“
Link argued that the HOA bylaws only reference having a flagpole and not displaying a flag.
“The issue is settled and frankly, I think it is absolutely disgusting and unpatriotic of you to try to bully the members of this community into not flying an AMERICAN flag,” Link said in an email to the HOA president.
The HOA president told Link in another email that the homeowner requested pictures of the flag display and that the homeowner also asked that the flag be removed.
“The owner was the one that ask(ed) me to send him pictures of his home and yes, he said for you to remove the flag,” the email said. “When the owner of the property say(s) do something, you comply. Sorry you (feel) that we are unpatriotic. I served 28 years in the military, but the HOA has its own by-Laws that will be followed and you will follow them like everyone else, no exception.”
KCEN Channel 6 reached out to the HOA, Associa Hill Country and was told the HOA allows approved flag poles attached to homes, but the homeowner did not approve the pole attachment to the house.
“The Falls at Fox Creek Homeowner’s Association allows residents to fly flags on approved flag poles attached to their homes. Per the community’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), no free-standing flag poles are allowed to be erected. Unfortunately, the tenant is leasing the unit from a homeowner and the owner of the property did not approve the flag pole attachment to the home and requested the resident remove the brackets immediately.”
Links' neighbors said they are outraged by the HOA’s stance and plan to display their flags in solidarity.
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