Navy Veteran May Lose His Home Over a Flagpole Dispute

A 62-year-old Navy veteran from St. Michael, Minnesota, may be in danger of losing his home after installing a flagpole in his yard to fly the American flag.

Reed Herman is a resident of St. Michael, Minnesota, where the homeowners association in his neighborhood has foreclosed his house. They plan on selling it to the highest cash offer at the sheriff’s auction on October 7.

The Preserve West Townhome Association says that they are selling the home, which is listed around $300,000. From there, the association will recover about $6,600 in legal fees and other costs to fight Herman over the flagpole. The association claims that the pole violates the rules Herman agreed upon before moving into the development.

“Association living, I suppose, is not for everybody. We have a lot of rules, and we sign an agreement to abide by those,” said Joanne Dungan, the association’s president.

The Veteran Responds

Herman, however, has fired back with a motion in Wright County District Court to put an injunction to stop the foreclosure sale. A hearing for the case will happen next week. He also is seeking a judgment clearing the title of his home.

Both Herman and his lawyer, Daniel Moak, have declined to comment on the situation, saying they want to let the court findings speak on their behalf. Their findings depict a military veteran who wanted to proudly hang his country’s flag but went astray when a limiting homeowners association controls everything in the neighborhood, from pets to home decor.

Herman and his wife Sandra bought the home three years ago on St. Michael’s eastern side, says the court documents.

In June of 2018, Herman sent a notice to the homeowners association asking to install a lighted flagpole with the American flag in his front yard. He never heard back from the association. In response, he made numerous calls to the management company, but again receiving no answer.

Herman took it upon himself to install the in-ground flagpole with the flag he served under in late August of 2018.

The veteran is the owner of a home-inspection business. However, he spent 12 years as a medical corpsman in the Navy and Naval Reserves. He now serves as a veteran’s liaison at Wright County Senior Community Services.

After two weeks, a letter came to him from the association’s lawyer demanding the immediate removal of the pole. The homeowners association denies receiving any written plans about the pole prior to the installation, which is mandatory in its rules.

The homeowner petitioned the association’s choice three times but got denied every time.

He finally took down the pole after the association threatened to fine him $50 a day in November of 2018.

A year later, in October of 2019, Herman was told that he owed $3,700 to the association for legal fees and other costs associated with the situation. According to court documents, he offered a settlement or mediation, but the association refused.

The Issue

On July 16, the association said that the sheriff’s sale will be held on the sheriff’s doorstep in October to recover $6,656 Herman owes.

The homeowners association president says that they never had an issue with the American flag, but the flagpole. Flags may be flown from poles attached to homes.

Minnesota law permits citizens to fly American flags, but homeowner’s associations may also impose restrictions.

“We have many veterans living here, and we honor the flag,” Dungan said. “My husband’s a veteran. It has nothing to do with the flag. Just the pole, period.”

[H/T Task & Purpose]