Apex Raises Concern Over Flag Displays
Posted March 26, 2003
APEX, N.C. — Six American flags fly from the canopy of a gas station in Apex. There is a large flag out front and small flags on gas pumps.
Is it tacky or patriotic?
"It looks patriotic to me," patron Donnie Blue said.
"Obviously, the gentleman is showing patriotism and support for troops overseas and I commend that," patron Donnie Eicher said.
Apex town leaders disagree, saying the display violates the town's one flag per house or business rule. The town told station owner Dale Syler to take down the flags or pay $500 a day in fines.
"The flag is our symbol of freedom and that's what our men are fighting for now," said Rep. Russel Capps, R-Raleigh. "I think the flag ought to have freedom, especially in a time like this."
Capps wrote a bill that would tell local governments and anyone else to butt out when it comes to flag flying restrictions.
Capps said many subdivisions have restrictions on flag size and number that can be displayed. Even the so-called All-American City of Fayetteville only allows three flags to fly on any one property. Flags cannot be on anything for sale, like cars. The theory is that flags should not be used to bring in business.
Customers of the Apex gas station said they were not compelled to stop there because of the flags.
"They didn't draw me in here at all, I didn't really notice them at first," Eicher said.
The Apex town manager said no one has ever been fined for violating the flag ordinance. He met with Syler on Wednesday.
Meanwhile the town issued a statement that it will be examining local ordinances concerning commercial signs and the use of flags. The evaulation will include a public hearing.
Wednesday, a House committee voted to overide homeowner association restrictions that involve the display of the American flag. The proposal must win approval from another committee before reaching the full House. If it passes, the measure would end restrictions, like the ones in a Cary neighborhood, where homeowners are not allowed to fly the flag in their front yards.