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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Carolina Beach Council Exempts Patriotic Flags From Sign Ordinance

Carolina Beach Council Exempts Patriotic Flags From Sign Ordinance

The Carolina Beach Town Council voted August 14, to exempt patriotic flags from the Town's sign regulations. The ordinance was amended earlier this year tightening up restrictions on the size and number of flags that could be displayed.

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council voted Tuesday night August 14, to exempt patriotic flags from the requirements of  their sign ordinance amended earlier this year which had placed tighter restrictions on flying such flags.
The Council adopted amendments to the Town's sign ordinance earlier this year relaxing the rules for temporary signs while tightening up on regulations for displaying flags.
According to Town Planning Director Ed Parvin, at the Council's July 10, meeting the Council heard from several members of the community regarding the new sign ordinance. He explained, "The only regulation that was brought up as a concern was the reduced number of patriotic flags that a property could have on-site. Based on this concern, Town Council requested we relook at that specific section of the ordinance."
The concern was the sign regulations went from one flag per 25 feet of road frontage to one patriotic or decorative flag or banner per 50 feet of road frontage.
At the July meeting, Randy Wood, owner of Red Hotz Rentals on Lake Park Blvd explained, "I fly ten U.S. Flags. I fly all five branches of the military. I fly one POW/MIA flag. I'm a veteran and I'm a patriot."
Parvin said the most typical size for flags are 3'x5' (15 sq. feet) "Which is what you see at Town Hall and Red Hotz". Another standard size is 4'x6' or 24 sq. feet.
Parvin explained to Council that he will present four options for their consideration. The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved Option one at their July 12, meeting which calls for the original recommendation of one patriotic flag per 25' feet.
Parvin explained the Planning Commission's recommendation still exceeds the historical allowances for patriotic flags in Carolina Beach.
Option two gives the property owner the flexibility to determine what size and how many flags they can have, but limits them to a total amount of "flagging."
Parvin explained, "Option two expands the allowances much more than it appears on the surface. A difference worth mentioning between allocating square footage per business or residence vs. per lot... is it could be seen as more equitable to individual homes or businesses that are located in common ownership (several on one lot). However, the flagging allowances increases drastically under Option two. Every home or business can have "x" square feet under Option two. So if you live in a neighborhood that has 50 square feet of frontage but 10 condos then there could be (10 times "x") square feet of patriotic flagging vs. the historical ordinance which only gives you two flags for a total of 30 square feet for the entire neighborhood."
Parvin said most homes and businesses are on a 50' lot. Under the historical ordinance a lot would be allowed two 15 square foot flags, or 30 square feet total. Under Option two at 50 square feet you could have three at 15 sq. ft., or 2 at 24 square feet, or one big one at 50 square feet, etc. He explained, "In other words, even the most restrictive of the three proposed square footage allowances... gives more flagging than has been historically allowed."
For example, 50 square feet would give 20 more square feet than in the past. 100 square feet would allow a home or business to have four 24 square foot flags or six 15 square foot flags. 225 square feet would allow 15 flags for a business such as Red Hotz on Lake Park Blvd.
Option three calls for no limitations in residential areas and limitations similar to those of Options 1 and 2 in commercial districts.
Option four calls for no regulation of patriotic flags anywhere in Town.
In Fayetteville, NC, the allowance is five flags per lot with no size requirement. Jacksonville only limits the size of a flag to 16 square feet. Wrightsville Beach regulates flags by not permitting the total size to exceed 100 square feet cumulatively. New Hanover County has no limit while Brunswick County limits to three poles per lot up to three flags per pole with no size restrictions.
The historical limitations in Carolina Beach on flying flags included prohibiting flags to protrude more than three and one-half feet from the front, side or rear facades of a building; maintain a minimum clearance from adjacent ground and/or sidewalk, level to the lower portion of the displayed flagging or support member of eight feet; limitation on quantity of one flag per every 25' of road frontage or building frontage on the primary frontage street. Also, flags had to stay within the property boundaries.
During the August 14, meeting Councilman Bob Lewis said the option with no restrictions could result in someone placing hundreds of flags on their property but felt that wasn't a likely scenario.
Parvin said he added a section for height of up to 20 feet. He said, "You could look at 20 feet for residential and for commercial areas you could do something consistent with what we allow for freestanding signs."
Mayor Ray Rothrock questioned how to deal with taller flagpoles such as the ones at McDonald's. Those would be grandfathered under the ordinance in place at the time they were erected and could remain unless they required repairs more than 50% of their value.
Ryan Powell of Carolina Beach urged the Council not to restrict the number of patriotic flags people can fly.
Sheila Steel said her father fought in World Way II and recently passed away at age 94. She said, "He fought for our freedom and I just don't want to see us put a ban on American flags."
Bobby McConville said, "We talk about these flags and the Planning Commission has worked to come up with a lot of ordinances they've been dealing with for two years... but the American flags should be flown as many as they want where ever they need to be."
He said he's never been shown evidence of complaints about American flags. He said, "It's a staff driven issue." He said, "Do we really want to be the beach that is anti-flag?"
He said many people have fought for citizens right to fly the American flag and there should be no restriction. He said Randy of Red Hotz took a vacant business and turned it into a viable business.
Harry Gierszewski said, "What a great honor it is to see these flags flying high. I'm a neighbor to his business over here" and it's great to see military soldiers come into the local McDonald's and tell them how great it is the flags are flying high.
Steve Howard said he's a visitor to the area and, "If this Town was to adopt something where they can't have their flags, I'm not sure I would want to come back."
Randy Wood, owner of Red Hotz golf cart rentals on Lake Park Blvd spoke to the Council about his service in the military and continuing support for soldiers and veterans.
He said he felt like his patriotism was being called into question with regards to fly flags over his business.
He did his own research contacting numerous towns up and down the North Carolina coast. He said in Wilmington there are no limits on the display of flags.
Wood said, "Those are the only three towns. Nags Head, Wrightsville Beach and Sunset Beach. And that's it. That was simple. For me to figure out there's no other Town like that around here for what we intended to do."
He said he would have to adhere to what the Council adopted adding that, "I just think it's something when the display of my patriotism is going to be restricted. All it's going to take is three out of five of you to do that here tonight. I would appreciate you considering letting me keep my flags."
The Council voted four to one in favor of exempting patriotic flags from the sign ordinance regulations entirely.
Mayor Rothrock and Council members Shuttleworth, Lashley and Lewis voted in favor. Council member Sarah Friede voted no. The regulations still apply to decorative flags and banners.