St. Michael, MN – A Minnesota homeowner’s association is trying to take away a U.S. Navy veteran’s house after he installed a lighted flagpole in his yard so he could fly the American flag on his property.
The Preserve West Townhome Association (PWTA) said that it has foreclosed upon 62-year-old Reed Herman’s home, and that the property – which is valued at $300,000, will be sold at the Wright County sheriff’s auction on Oct. 7, the Star Tribune reported.
The PWTA said it is selling the residence in order to recoup an estimated $6,600 worth of legal fees and other charges associated with a dispute with Herman over his flagpole.
The association claimed that the pole was installed in violation of the rules Herman and his wife had agreed to abide by when they purchased their residence back in 2017, the Star Tribune reported.
Herman spent 12 years serving as a medical corpsman in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Naval Reserves, and is currently a veteran’s liaison with the county’s senior community services programming.
He also operates a home-inspection business, the Star Tribune reported.
According to court documents, Herman sent the PWTA a written notice in June of 2018, telling them he wanted to install a lighted flagpole in his front yard so he could fly the American flag.
Herman said that he never received a response, so he placed several calls to the housing development’s management company.
He said that the management company never called him back, so he ultimately moved forward with his plan and installed the flagpole in late August of 2018, the Star Tribune reported.
But just two weeks later, the Navy veteran received a letter from the PWTA, demanding that he take down the in-ground flagpole immediately, according to court documents.
The association claimed Herman was required under the PWTA rules to submit written plans for the flagpole’s installation, and that he failed do so and was therefore in violation.
Herman said he petitioned his homeowners’ association to allow him to keep his flagpole two more times, but they refused on all attempts, the Star Tribune reported.
The PWTA then threatened to levy a fine of $50 per day against Herman for every day he left the flagpole up, so he relented in November of 2018 and removed it altogether.
The dispute seemed to be resolved until October of 2019, when the PWTA notified Herman that he allegedly owed them $3,700 for costs and attorney fees associated with the flagpole, the Star Tribune reported.
According to court documents, Herman tried to arrange mediation and settlement discussions with the PWTA, but they refused to budge.
The association proceeded to tack on more costs and interest in the months that followed, bringing the total claim to $6,656 as of July 16, when the PWTA announced that Herman’s home would be sold at the sheriff’s sale in October, the Star Tribune reported.
Herman has asked the Wright County District Court for an injunction so he can keep his home, and has also requested a judgement clearing his title.
A hearing on those matters is scheduled to take place next week.
He and his attorney declined to comment on the matter, and said that the facts are all contained in the court documents, the Star Tribune reported.
According to the filing, other residents in the development where Herman and his wife reside also have in-ground flagpoles.
A Minnesota Vikings flag flies from at least one of them, he said.
PWTA President Joanne Dungan said that everything would have been fine if Herman had just flown the flag from a pole attached to his home instead of installing an in-ground flagpole.
“It has nothing to do with the flag – just the pole. Period,” Dungan told the Star Tribune, adding that her husband is also a military veteran.
“Association living, I suppose, is not for everybody. We have a lot of rules, and we sign an agreement to abide by those,” she added. “You cannot govern by exception. When we make a decision, it’s not just one property, it’s 128 properties.”