It's a grand old flag again in New Jersey. Homeowner associations can no longer prohibit the flying of flags or other patriotic displays under "flag law" legislation that Gov. James E. McGreevey signed on January 8, 2004.
Under the legislation, which was widely supported by the New Jersey chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI-NJ) and its members, New Jersey now has a bill which prohibits municipal ordinances, resolutions, community association bylaws and HOA rules from forbidding certain patriotic displays, except in limited circumstances. Senate Bill 2360, sponsored by Sens. Joseph A. Palaia, Peter A. Inverso, Upendra J. Chivukula, Joseph V. Egan, Neil M. Cohen, and Jeff Van Drew, prohibits municipal ordinances and homeowners' association rules from limiting displays of the American flag and also displays of yellow ribbons and signs supporting U.S. troops.
Battleground over Old Glory
In New Jersey and a handful of other states around the country, there had been much debate about the power of HOAs in restricting First Amendment rights of homeowners who wished to erect a flagpole, post signs, or fly a flag on their property.
Flag disputes between residents and HOAs have been ongoing since the early '90s but several prominent examples gained national attention during 2003. One case involved a Virginia couple who exhausted their appeals in a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, in which they were ordered to remove a flagpole from their property and faced legal costs of nearly $150,000. The second was an ex-Marine from Jupiter, Florida, who faced foreclosure on his home and over $25,000 in legal fees because he refused to remove a flagpole from his property. Florida law permits homeowners and condo associations to fly the American flag, but it was the flagpole that the association objected to.
In a third instance, a retired Army officer from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was fined $850 because he refused to remove a flagpole from his property after being ordered to do so by his homeowners association board.