Statesville files lawsuit over business’s massive American flag, CEO challenges rule

Published: May. 27, 2019 at 10:35 PM EDT
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STATESVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) - The City of Statesville has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to order an injunction to force a local business to take down a giant American flag.

The flag is flying over the Gander RV lot on the edge of town near Interstate 77. People driving the interstate have a clear view of the 40 foot by 80 foot flag.

The problem is, according to the city, the flag is almost double the size that is allowed under the city codes.

The codes are in place to regulate the size of signs and other outdoor marketing devices and also to limit the size of flags. Currently, the largest flag allowed would be 25 feet by 40 feet.

The business was informed in September they could not continue to fly the much bigger flag but it stayed up.

Three years before, the company asked for a variance in the codes and that was denied.

In October of 2018 the city filed a citation against Gander RV and Camping World with $50 dollar a day fines.

With no movement on that and the flag staying up, the city filed for injunctive relief on May 7.

Local people say they are not bothered by the massive flag.

“It is beautiful,” said Phil Ingram.

Diane Griffith thinks city officials should back off going after the company.

She thinks the flag should be allowed no matter how big it is. “We love our country and I love our country and that is what it represents.”

A petition drive has started and the company has vowed on Facebook that when it comes to the request to take the flag down, “We won’t do it.”

No date has been set for the matter to be heard in court.

So far, the fines have totaled almost $11,000 and still growing every day.

The City of Statesville provided a statement Monday evening.

“In June, 2018, Gander RV (formerly known as Camping World) filed an application with the Statesville Planning Department to display a 40x25-foot flag on its property. The permit was approved, but when the flag was raised two months later, it was determined the company was flying a 40x80-foot flag, which is prohibited by City ordinance. After several attempts to have Gander RV replace the flag with the permitted size, the City notified Gander in October, 2018, that the $50-per-day fine would be initiated until the flag was replaced. On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, Statesville City Attorney Leah Messick filed an injunction against Holiday Kamper Co. (owner of Gander RV in Statesville) for violating the City’s regulations on displaying flags. The complaint asks the Court to order Gander RV to comply with the ordinance. Gander RV has 30 days to respond to the complaint,” the statement read.

In response to this the City of Statesville, Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis provided tweeted out several statements on the matter. Lemonis explained that while he would be in town on Thursday evening and was happy to discuss the matter in person, he had no intention of taking it down and instead aimed to have code for signs and flags changed at a federal level.

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