Statesville City Council votes against change to flag ordinance as debate over giant American flag continues

Statesville City Council votes against change to flag ordinance

STATESVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Statesville City Council has voted against changes to a flag ordinance Monday night as the debate over a giant American flag at Gander RV on I-77 continues.

The proposed change would have allowed a 40’x80’ flag to fly in a highway business zone. Monday’s vote means the Gander RV flag remains out of compliance. The City’s ordinance does permit a 25’x40’ flag.

No one spoke at the public hearing, but each Council member commented on the issue before voting.

The vote was 5-3 against the motion to amend the ordinance. Voting in favor of the motion were C.O. Johnson, John Staford and Steve Johnson. Voting against the motion were William Morgan, Roy West, Doris Allison, Keith Williams and Michael Johnson.

The vote does not affect the injunction filed against Gander RV back in May which asks the court to order Gander RV to comply with the ordinance and pay a $50 per day fine.

The owner of Gander RV and reality television star Marcus Lemonis reacted to the vote Monday night when asked what he thought about the news.

“Unbelievable, I’m stunned,” Lemonis said. “When they are faced by people holding them accountable they say the right things, then when they are there to vote and do the right thing they do the wrong thing.“

On the phone Tuesday, Lemonis says he still stands by his previous mentality of keeping the flag flying, despite the ordinance violation.

People in Statesville agree the flag should still fly.

“They’re doing it for our country not just to spite the city," said one resident we talked to.

City Council’s vote comes after the Statesville Planning Board approved a recommendation on June 10 to increase the size of flags allowed in certain areas.

At the June 10 meeting, the Planning Board unanimously approved a recommendation to increase the size from 25’ x 40’ to 40’ x 80’.

The planning board’s unanimous vote came just weeks after the city filed a lawsuit asking a judge to order an injunction to force a local business to take down a giant American flag at Gander RV on I-77.

On May 29, Statesville Mayor Costi Kutteh asked the Statesville Planning Department to draft a text amendment that would allow the large flag to continue flying.

“As part of the Planning Board’s recommendation, they asked the code contain additional language enhancing the engineering and design of the flag poles, and also advised to add language referencing the U.S. Flag Code as found in Title 4 of the United States Code,” city officials said.

The owner of Gander RV and reality television star Marcus Lemonis said in late May that the flag would stay even if he was jailed for contempt of court.

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