After a Navy veteran refused to remove his American flag from his yard, the local homeowner association slammed him with ridiculous daily fines. Although he finally took down his beloved flag, he was shocked when they ultimately came for his home.
When 62-year-old Navy veteran Reed Herman wanted to put a pole in his front yard to fly the American flag, he knew that he must first get the local homeowner association’s (HOA) approval. As such, he sent the association a written notice detailing his desire to install the lighted pole in his yard in Saint Michael, Minnesota.
Herman claims that he never heard back from any of the HOA representatives, so he tried to contact the management company for the development. After two months and several unreturned calls, he finally decided to go ahead with his plans. Unfortunately, the move would cost him dearly.
According to the Star Tribune, just two weeks after Herman erected the flagpole in his yard, he finally received a response from the HOA, just not one he expected. The Preserve West Townhome Association’s lawyer sent Herman a letter warning him to remove the pole immediately for apparently failing to provide written plans for the installation.
Concerned, the veteran petitioned a second and even a third time, pleading for permission. Instead, he received a warning that he would be fined $50 each day until the pole was removed from his yard. Defeated, Herman relented and took down the pole, restoring his yard to the HOA’s standards. However, that wasn’t enough.
Nearly a year later, the association sent Herman a bill for $3,700, claiming that he owed them for attorney fees and costs related to the dispute. Disturbingly, the association continued to add to the bill until it reached $6,656. Unbelievably, in order to recover the costs, the association informed Herman that they were foreclosing on his home.
“Association living, I suppose, is not for everybody. We have a lot of rules, and we sign an agreement to abide by those,” Joanne Dungan, the association’s president, said in an interview.
Months after the initial billing notice, the HOA announced that Herman’s $300,000 home would be sold off in a sheriff’s auction in order to recover the fees it claims he owes. Incredibly, the association’s members had neither regard for Herman’s military service nor any sympathy for the fact that they were taking his home.
“You cannot govern by exception,” she said. “When we make a decision, it’s not just one property, it’s 128 properties.” Minnesota law, she said, requires that citizens be allowed to fly the U.S. flag, but also allows homeowners’ associations to impose restrictions.
“We have many veterans living here and we honor the flag,” Dungan said. “My husband’s a veteran.”
The HOA planned to auction off the veteran’s $300,000 home despite his willingness to cooperate. (Photo Credit: Pixabay)
Dungan admitted that the ordeal has nothing to do with the American flag or Herman’s decision to fly it. In fact, she reiterated that residents are allowed to erect flags outside of their homes as long as it’s attached to the house. On the contrary, it’s the pole that caused the objection.
“It has nothing to do with the flag. Just the pole, period,” she said.
Herman is determined to fight the foreclosure and has filed a motion in the Wright County District Court for an injunction to stop it. He claims that there are other in-ground flagpoles that the HOA hasn’t targeted. He hopes that the judge will halt the process and ultimately clear the title to his home.
If the auction goes ahead as planned, Herman could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars on his property. Incredibly, the association is adamant to abide by a one-size-fits-all policy, regardless of how it may affect its residents.
While Herman is required to seek out the HOA’s permission for changes to his property, the association also has the duty to respond to his requests in a timely manner. They failed to fulfill their end of the bargain. Hopefully, the court sees this failure and rules in Herman’s favor.