Joyce and Bill Keefe of Central Point flew the American flag on a 15-foot pole over the July 4 weekend, and a neighbor complained that they violated the neighborhood’s covenants, codes and restrictions. - Jim Craven

Letting their flag fly high

CENTRAL POINT — After being reprimanded by a neighbor for flying the Stars and Stripes too high above the ground on Independence Day, Vietnam veteran Bill Keefe and his wife, Joyce, say they will push for changes that will let them display Old Glory however they choose.

The couple ran into trouble when they flew a 3-foot-by-5-foot American flag over the July 4 weekend in honor of those who served before, after and alongside Bill Keefe in the 1960s. At least one neighbor, reported the Keefe's 15-foot flagpole as a violation of the Twin Oaks subdivision's covenants, codes and restrictions — the rules commonly knows as "CCRs."

The Keefes sent letters to their state and local representatives and the governor's office hoping somebody will introduce legislation that would exempt display of the flag from CCRs.

Congress is way ahead of them on this issue.

In 2005 President George W. Bush signed into law the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act, in response to complaints about too-restrictive CCRs that effectively prevented residents of some developments from displaying the flag. The law says neighborhood associations may not enforce any policy that prevents residents from flying the flag. However, the law also requires all flag displays to comply with "any reasonable restriction pertaining to the time, place or manner of displaying the flag" to protect the interests of the association.

Joyce Keefe is angry that the couple's flag display is being treated just like an improperly placed satellite dish or a trash can left out past garbage pick-up day.

"We basically got this letter saying, 'No way!' " she said. "(Twin Oaks) has a thing where they check off your problem and hand it to you and that's it. You'd better fix it or they start with letters and you can wind up with a fine or a lien on your home.

"I, personally, don't think the flag needs to be compared to garbage cans," she said. "I wouldn't move out of my neighborhood because I can't fly the flag but, for me, the flag thing being such a big deal was going too far."

Brett Moore, a real estate developer who lives in the planned neighborhood, said residents must agree to the CCRs prior to buying a house in Twin Oaks. He said the Keefes' violation had to do with the height of their flagpole, not the flag itself.

Moore said an exception might have been possible had the flag flown just on July 4, but it was displayed for several days.

"It's not about the flag," Moore said. "It's about the pole. Our CCRs do not ban flags at all. They don't even mention flags, they just say poles."

"We specifically included language to allow flags that you put on your front porch, like a three or four foot deal. But a 15-foot pole is not allowed."

Moore said the restriction on poles was written to prevent residents from erecting large flagpoles.

"What if someone decided to put up a 50 or 60 foot pole?" he said, noting the large flags that have been installed at several businesses in the Rogue Valley.

"What prompted the issue was that over the Fourth of July holiday, the pole was up four or five days straight," Moore said. "I'll bet if it was just up on the Fourth, nobody would have said anything. It's all about being courteous to your neighbors, and too many poles can be unsightly."

A neighbor whom the Keefes said had complained about the flagpole declined to speak to the Mail Tribune.

Another neighbor, Don Kruger, said putting restrictions on displays of the flag "goes against the grain of an American.

"I am myself very patriotic," he said, "and yet I see the need for CCRs. I do think, however, that a minor infraction over a holiday such as the Fourth of July could and should be ignored."

Kylee Schwab, who lives behind the Keefes, said CCRs "have gotten completely out of hand."

Schwab said "CCR Nazis that are retired ... just walk around the neighborhood like five times a day."

Schwab, who sells real estate, said she refuses to sell homes within her development and would love to live elsewhere.

"So many people who live in this neighborhood want out because of the CCRs," she said. "It's just ridiculous. (Some neighbors) walk and ride their little bikes around the neighborhood and you have one hair out of line and they're all over you.

"They ride in front and down the back to make sure both sides of your house are in the order they want it in," Schwab said. "His flag was not offensive but it was just one more thing for them to scream about."

Bill Keefe said he's "not one to kick up a lot of dust" about the issue, but he felt his flag display was tasteful.

"I can see where we aren't supposed to have a mobile home or trailer parked in the driveway all the time," he said, "and I can see most of the rules, but even the retirement home down the road has a permanent flag display.

"My neighbors around me are (saying) 'Fly that sucker!' " Bill Keefe said. "But then these guys are saying they could get lawyers and go as far as putting liens on houses. It's pretty bad. I think everybody is just fed up."

Moore sympathized, but he said rules were in place for a reason.

"The CCRs try to make it clear as to what would be acceptable and unacceptable to be courteous to your neighbors," he said.

"One person's thing that they love might be objectionable to everyone else," he said. "I'm as patriotic as anybody, but that doesn't mean you should be able to just go put flags up wherever you want, especially if its part of an agreement — and CCRs are an agreement."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at

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