‘Why is the city council so adamant about the size of my flag?’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) A business owner is defying a North Carolina city ordinance that limits the size of the American flag that he flies.
“I just want to pay my taxes and run my business,” said Marcus Lemonis, CEO of national recreational vehicle retailer Camping World.
He has flown a 40- by 80-foot flag at a Statesville, North Carolina store since August 2017, the Statesville Record and Landmark reported.
Lemonis tweeted that the “flag isn’t coming down” after the Statesville City Council voted 5-3 on Monday to affirm an ordinance that limits flags to 25-by-40 feet.
“It’s my property, my business and my flag,” Lemonis said. “Why is the city council so adamant about the size of my flag?”
The Statesville City Council became interested in the size of the flag when the city’s planning team told the council it could limit flag size but not flag type, leaving the door open for people to fly large, offensive flags.
Councilman John Staford, joined by councilmen Steve Johnson and C.O. Johnson, voted to increase the legal flag size.
“Upon raising that flag and seeing it when it was up, it was not offensive to me,” Staford told the newspaper. “I wanted to bring it before council to see if other council members felt it was appropriate.”
City council members who opposed raising the limit said it was an issue of asserting the local government’s authority.
“We had an agreement with Camping World to compromise on the size of the flag, and then they violated the compromise and went ahead and did what they wanted to do,” Councilman Roy West said. “If we allow that, it’s like a slap in our face.”
But the compromise did not involve Lemonis, according to Staford. City council members debated the ordinance and agreed to a larger size that did not accommodate the flag on Lemonis’ property.
“I agreed to increase our ordinance from 96 square feet to 1,000 square feet, 10 times larger. I will not go any further,” Councilman William Morgan said. “I take umbrage at the fact that we’re being vilified for not being patriotic. It has nothing to do with patriotism. It has to do with what we have in place, and I fully support what I did, and I support the ordinance as it stands.”
Lemonis said he would continue to fly his flag until he receives justification from the city council about how the flag harms the city.