Offbeat He refused to pay a fine for the U.S. flag on his porch. His fight with the HOA forced him to sell his house.

05:40  10 july  2018
05:40  10 july  2018 Source:   msn.com

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He refused to pay a fine for the U . S . flag on his porch . His HOA made him get rid of the house . And Murphree, who says he spent half a dozen years as an air traffic controller in the U . S . Air Force , wasn’t budging.

Air Force veteran Larry Murphree loves his country with all his heart, so he decided to put a small one on his front porch , “One day I was thinking about the country, and I put a small American flag on my front porch in a flower pot,” Murphree said. It was just his small way of showing his patriotism.

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Shortly after slicing open the letter from his condo association, Larry Murphree was seeing red.

People doing routine neighborhood checks for the Tides Condominium Association had taken notice of the “unauthorized object” on his front porch and demanded that he remove it. If he didn’t, the letter warned, he’d be fined $100 every day.

But the “unauthorized object” in question was a 17-inch American flag that he had placed in a flower pot. And Murphree, who says he spent half a dozen years as an air traffic controller in the U.S. Air Force, wasn’t budging.

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On top of this, he says his HOA was using his HOA fee money to pay off the fines unbeknownst to him . The HOA did not respond to NBC affiliate WTLV' s request for comment. Read more from WTLV.

Air Force veteran Larry Murphree loves his country with all his heart, so he decided to put a small one on his front porch , “One day I was thinking about the country, and I put a small American flag on my front porch in a flower pot,” Murphree said. It was just his small way of showing his patriotism.

“I lost it,” Murphree said of his state on receiving the letter. “It just dawned on me there’s people that strap on a gun every day to protect me and the people I love. It’s a small flag, but it stands for a big thank you.”

Thus began a saga that has consumed the past seven years of Murphree’s life and several hundred thousand dollars he had squirreled away to live in the retirement community in Sweetwater, Fla., his attorney said.

Three years ago, it cost him his house.

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He sold his home in the wake of mounting fees and a lien placed on it by the condominium association. Foreclosure was imminent, he said, and the ordeal had soured his desire to live in the community. Still, his stand has been costly and he was recently granted a court date for a trial, where he’ll try to recoup his lost money. He’s suing for $1 million.

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Eventually he said he was forced to sell his condo so it it wouldn't be foreclosed on. " Sold my place at a tremendous loss and got out of here," Murphree explained, adding that while he ' s no longer living there, the HOA ' s rules still need to be challenged.

“He’s probably lost . . . hundreds of thousands of dollars of his retirement money, not to mention the time he’ll never get back from having to fight this battle,” his attorney, Gust Sarris, told The Washington Post.

Nearly a decade ago, Murphree was one of the first people to buy a house at the Tides Condominium at Sweetwater, where the homes are all owned by people over 55. He cut the ribbon during an opening ceremony, and other residents nicknamed him “The Mayor.”

He liked that his gated community would be safe, and it had many amenities to keep him busy: indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a huge clubhouse that had just been finished.

The only problem was the mind-numbing sameness of the place — condos he said looked so similar that neighbors frequently pulled into the wrong driveway.

Any attempts at personalization were frowned upon, if not openly rejected by the homeowners associations. Monitors drove around, looking for violations. Neighbors told stories of having to dig up flowers they’d placed around mailboxes or letters about taking down inappropriate Christmas lights.

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What did make news…Was his Neighborhood Association’ s quibble with how the 90-year-old veteran chose to fly the American flag outside his suburban Virginia home. Seems the HOA rules said it was OK to fly a flag on a house -mounted bracket, but, for decorum, items such as Barfoot’ s

He placed a small flag in a flower pot on the front porch of his condo, First Coast News reported. Naturally, this veteran refused . On top of this, he says his HOA was using his HOA fee money to pay off the fines unbeknownst to him .

Things got worse, Murphree said, when a new homeowners association board was elected and “they kept tightening the noose.”

The flag was the final straw, and his attorney, Gust Sarris, said it came down to a simple principle: “Should any man who served in the military lose his home, a retirement home, because they want to be patriotic? Anybody can see that the HOA has gone overboard.”

Representatives for the homeowners association did not return calls or messages seeking comment. The community’s bylaws allow residents to fly flags on poles, but not to place them in flower pots, court documents say.

Murphree pleaded his case during HOA board meetings, then went to federal and state courts. His attorney said they had “been in every court that we could be in.”

He argued that Florida laws and federal statutes allow people to display the U.S. flag. The Freedom to Display the Flag Act prohibits HOAs and condo associations from stopping residents from displaying the American flag. But it allows what it deems reasonable restrictions.

Murphree thought he had won the battle in April 2012, when the condo association settled with him, paid his court fees and allowed him to keep his flag in his flower pot. Old Glory could stay, the settlement said.

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Question: This project's completion forced John Pickering to abandon his similar effort after 48 pages had already been printed. Under the guidance of Mark Hanna, he won the presidency using a front porch campaign. This President led the U . S . into war shortly after an explosion on board the USS

But a short time later, the condo association drafted new rules that didn’t mention flags, but instead governed how residents could display flower pots, dirt and watering bulbs.

“Once again,” one of Murphree’s lawsuits says, “Murphree began to incur fines of $100 per day for displaying the same American flag in the same flower pot, with the same flower and dirt in the same limited common area despite the fact that no changes were made since the settlement agreement was executed.”

Murphree continued to ignore the homeowners’ association’s threats. Making things worse during that time, he said, he had neck surgery and spent months in a fog.

He says that’s why he missed it when, at some point, the homeowners association began using the money they were withdrawing for his dues to pay the fines. Unbeknown to Murphree, he had fallen way behind on his HOA dues.

He claims the condo association began to nitpick, he says, tagging him for not parking his car appropriately in his driveway, or powering his Christmas lights with a solar panel instead of a battery.

Facing foreclosure, he decided to sell his house at a financial loss three years ago. He moved in with the woman who would become his new wife.

His new place is in St. Augustine and so far, he said, he’s had no problems.

One thing he likes about his community: a local veterans’ group places flags along the main drag on some national holidays.

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And the community doesn’t restrict the placement of flags on individual properties. Murphree has eight, including one in a flower pot on his front porch.

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