HOA outrage.

Medal Of Honor recipient in a suburb of Richmond ordered to remove a flagpole from his lawn.

Col. Van T. Barfoot, a local Medal of Honor winner, is under the gun from his Henrico County community’s homeowner association.

In a five-paragraph letter to Barfoot that he received yesterday, Barfoot is being ordered to remove a flagpole from his yard. The decorated veteran of three wars, now 90 years old, raises the American flag every morning on the pole, then lowers and folds the flag at dusk each day in a three-corner military fashion.

In an update today, Senator Warner is supporting this hero, much to his credit.

From the halls of Congress to the 90-year-old colonel’s old infantry unit, a local law firm and scores of service members, help is making its way to Col. Van T. Barfoot.

“He said he was outraged and wanted to help,” Barfoot’s daughter said yesterday, speaking of U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., who learned of Barfoot’s plight on TimesDispatch.com yesterday.

And, if nothing else, Richmond residents can use this incident to assist them in choosing a law firm to represent them should the need arise:

The Coates & Davenport law firm in Richmond sent a priority-mail letter ordering Barfoot to remove the pole by 5 p.m. Friday or face “legal action being brought to enforce the covenants and restrictions against you.” The letter states that Barfoot will be subject to paying all legal fees and costs in any successful legal proceeding pursued by the homeowners association’s board.

A Richmond law firm, Marchant, Honey & Baldwin, offered yesterday to represent Barfoot at no cost, partner John Honey said.

So, apparently, if you need legal representation, are a patriot and value our war heros, the choice of law firm should be pretty easy.

I really cannot express how outraged I am about this. Just one more reason that I despise the entire concept of the “Home Owners Association” and will never live in an area that falls under such a despotic organization.

Marko, the Munchkin Wrangler, covered it quite nicely in his post to which I must give a hat tip. I generally check the local papers for stories of note but haven’t checked in the past few days and so missed this one until he pointed it out.

Also, you have to question the smarts of a group of people who decided to boss around a man who took on three German Tiger tanks head-on armed with only a bazooka and a Thompson, and came out on top. I want to bet that even at his age, Colonel Barfoot has more mojo in his pinky than that whole sad assembly of lawn & paint Mussolinis can scrounge up in their entire family trees counting two generations up and down.

I am also reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Thomas Sowell:

“If people are free to do as they wish, they are almost certain not to do as we wish. That is why Utopian planners end up as despots, whether at the national level or at the level of the local ‘redevelopment’ agency.”

Or the level of the local Home Owners Association.

Update: Colonel Barfoot’s Medal of Honor Citation


8 thoughts on “HOA outrage.

  1. Before it disappears from the comments in the Richmond paper:


    Posted by borsaid on December 03, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    *Please remove if this is repetitive*

    11800 N Downs Sq
    Henrico, VA 23238-3474
    (804) 741-9160

    Evelyn L Wilson
    (Address same as Glenn Wilson)

    Martha Middleton
    11808 Rochampton Square
    Richmond, VA 23238

    Coates & Davenport
    5206 Markel Road, Suite 200
    Richmond VA 23230
    Toll Free: (800) 450-8311
    Local Phone: (804) 285-7000
    General Fax: (804) 285-2849
    Real Estate Fax: (804) 285-3426

    Lawyer assigned to the case:
    Alexandra “Sandra” D. Bowen
    5206 Markel Rd
    Richmond, VA 23230

  2. There's no way in hell I would ever live in an area under the control of an HOA.

    I've not read the bylaws, but I'll assume they are enforcing a rule that exists banning flagpoles (as stupid as that may be). One of many rules that are agreed to by residents as a condition of home sale. If that's the case they are on solid legal ground.

    That being said, you would think that someone on the HOA board would have the brains to pick their battles a little bit better, wouldn't you? Even if they aren't bright enough to realize how crappy this makes the HOA look – you would think that someone would at least have the heart to appreciate the service and sacrifice made by this serviceman – and make an exception.

    I would resign from the HOA board before I would have authorized that letter to him from the attorney.

  3. From what I gleaned from the stories, the HOA doesn't specifically ban flag poles, but the HOA denied him permission to install it for "aesthetic reasons".

    **It's unclear whether he installed it first and then they protested, or he asked permission, was denied and installed it anyway.**

    upon further reflection and re-reading some of the accounts, I think it's pretty clear that the former is the case. He, knowing that there was no prohibition on flag poles, installed it; then the HOA voted against it and ordered him to remove it.

    There is no provision in the community's rules expressly forbidding flagpoles, Barfoot's daughter said. But she said the board ruled against her father's fixture and ordered it removed in July… Doesn't change my point, but implies that the Colonel didn't blatantly disregard the vote of the HOA and install the pole over their objections, it seems that they didn't like the looks of his flagpole and just arbitrarily decided that it had to go.

    Either way, there was no stipulation against flag poles in the HOA agreement that he signed before purchasing the home or I would be significantly less outraged. This is nothing more than the HOA making an arbitrary and capricious decision that denies him the ability to continue a tradition that he's reportedly been practicing all his life.

    I would be upset if it happened to any patriotic American…I'm flat out INFURIATED that they're doing this to someone who endured such great dangers so selflessly for the very countrymen who are now determined to prevent him from honoring his country as he sees fit for such petty and insignificant reasons.

  4. Bear in mind one thing. No one forced him to buy a home in a development with an HOA.

    In concept, HOAs aren't even really that bad of a thing. The stereotypical problems don't come into play unless you get some bored busybodies on the board.

    Personally, I avoid HOAs as much as practical. However, the good ones I've dealt with are barely noticeable, and beat the hell out of living someplace where the neighborhood homes get taken over by dirtbags (e.g., broken down cars in the yard, houses in dire need of repair, etc.).

  5. I agree that no one forced a 90 year old man to buy a home close to his family.

    He could have lived far away from them and been on his own…everyone has to make compromises in life.

    But then again…if the HOA charter didn't say anything about flagpoles, what reason would he have to think that his would be opposed?

    Even so…the HOA is probably within the legal bounds of the law to demand that he take it down…which is why I've always said that I'd never live in an area lorded over by a Home Owner's Association…but being within the bounds of the law doesn't make what they are doing to this True American Hero, who has sacrificed more and served more in his life than all of the HOA board members combined, the RIGHT thing to do.

    They absolutely should be excoriated for this decision and the law firm profiting from their petty and vindictive action should feel the righteous wrath of patriotic Americans everywhere.

    In my humble opinion.

  6. HOA agreements generally have a list of things that you definitely can have, and a list of things you definitely cannot have. Anything not listed is basically at the whim of the association. Older HOAs have agreements that were much more specific. But the fixed part of the agreement (don't recall the actual legal term for the part I'm thinking of) is basically impossible to change. This became a big issue with things like satellite dishes. As you recall, they used to be monstrous, so HOA agreements banned them. But that ban also ended up applying to the new smaller ones, since that variety didn't exist when the HOA was created.

    So now they keep them much more vague for a lot of things, which is good sometimes, and bad much more often.

    Basically, with any HOA, if the rules don't state specifically that you can do something in there somewhere, there's a good chance that you won't be able to do it. So it's similar to what we always said to sailors who uttered the phrase "but my recruiter said" statement; if it's not in writing, it doesn't count.

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