A former U.S. Marine in danger of losing his home in a neighborhood feud over flying an American flag will not lose his property – at least not this Memorial Day.
Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush celebrates Flag Day with former Marine George Andres
George Andres of Jupiter, Fla., has been warring with his homeowners association for the past four years, as the flagpole in his yard turned into a national lightning rod of controversy.
According to local news reports, a Palm Beach County judge halted the foreclosure of Andres’ home, which was slated to be sold at a courthouse auction Thursday.
“I’m elated!” Andres exclaimed to the Jupiter Courier. “Everybody here is jumping for joy.”
As the holiday weekend approached, Andres got a congratulatory phone call from Gov. Jeb Bush, who had personally visited him on Flag Day last year.
Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist was dispatched to South Florida to help Andres celebrate the win after 23 court hearings and thousands of dollars in fines had accrued.
“It’s a great day for justice for this ex-Marine, and I’m so proud to stand by him,” Crist told the Palm Beach Post as he stood in Andres’ yard with an American flag and a smaller Marine Corps flag waving from the controversial flagpole in the background.
“The notion that an ex-Marine would come within an eyelash of losing his home for flying an American flag is astounding,” he said.
The foreclosure battle began when the Indian Creek Phase III-B Homeowners Association objected to the pole erected on Andres’ property, which it said violated its rules.
“[Andres is] very patriotic, but what he doesn’t understand is that everyone has to live by the rules,” association attorney Steven Selz told the Post.
In August 2001, a judge agreed with the association that the flagpole on the front lawn did not meet restrictions on residents.
Last year, the Florida Legislature passed a bill prompted by Andres’ legal troubles. It allows residents to fly an American flag “in a respectful manner” regardless of association rules, reports the Courier. Gov. Bush then signed it into law.
It was made retroactive to apply to Andres’ situation, but it was passed long after a lien was filed and the homeowners’ association won its case. In April, the judge hearing the case ruled foreclosure proceedings could move ahead despite the new law.
The decision last Friday keeps Andres in his home for now, but the final word comes later as both sides have been ordered to mediation. If an arbitrator can’t settle the matter, the flap over the flag heads back to trial court.