Marine Faces Code Violation for Flying Flags

An Iraq War veteran is battling his latest foe: municipal building codes.

Greg Schaffer flies Old Glory and a yellow Gadsden flag emblazoned with “Don’t Tread on Me” outside his home. But the town of Hypoluxo, Fla. is treading on Greg unless he gets a pricey permit by the end of the month.  

Technically, the flag is legal, but the flagpole requires a permit.  To legalize his flagpole, Greg needs to go to a third-party contractor and “have an engineer-approved plan that guarantees the pole can withstand 150 mph winds and submit the plans for approval”—a process that could cost upwards of $1,000. Plus, as Greg points out, “It’s not the first time I put up a pole. Why would I know I’d need a permit for flying a flag on a pole?”

But Hypoluxo isn’t the only town with officials with too much time and power on their hands. Jason and Jennifer Helvenston planted a vegetable garden in the front yard in Orlando and got threatened with up to $500 in fines a day. The Institute for Justice helped publicize their case, launching a campaign to protect “Patriot Gardens” from bureaucratic busybodies. As a result, Orlando’s city council dropped the code-enforcement case but could still bury front-yard gardens with mounds of red tape and zoning restrictions.

Pity more towns don’t do permits the Ron Swanson way.

-- Nick Sibilla

Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice

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