On Saturday, March 31st, we raised and dedicated the “Charlottesville I-64 Spirit of Defiance Memorial Battle Flag” on private property adjacent to Interstate 64, in Louisa County. We reported at the time that the property owner had contacted us a year earlier, when Wes Bellamy and Charlottesville City Council voted to break Virginia State Law and attempt to remove the Robert E. Lee monument from Lee Park in Charlottesville. http://vaflaggers.blogspot.
Before beginning site work, both the landowner and a representative of the Va Flaggers contacted the Louisa Planning and Zoning Division and inquired about building permits and height restrictions. Both were told, on separate occasions by the same employee, that no building permit was needed and there was no height restriction. This was confirmed by information found on the Louisa County zoning website, and is not unusual in rural counties in Virginia, especially on property zoned for agriculture. Site work began in October of 2017, the pole was erected in January of 2018.
On April 16th, two weeks AFTER the flag was raised, and almost three months after the pole was installed on January 24, and apparently under pressure by leftists in neighboring Charlottesville , the Louisa County Board of Supervisors introduced a “stop gap” resolution to AMEND the zoning for A2 (the same zoning as our memorial site) to restrict the height of structures to 60' and to remove the exemptions for flag poles and monuments. The amendment was voted on and passed at their June meeting.
On April 17th, the NEXT DAY after the zoning amendment resolution was introduced, an inspection was performed on the property and the pole was allegedly found to be in violation of the (just passed) 60' height restriction. A formal notice of violation was served, claiming that since a building permit was not obtained, a new one had to be acquired, and the new zoning restriction would apply.
Louisa County thought they had found a way to force the flag down. The process to appeal is expensive and time consuming and the average citizen doesn’t have the time or resources to fight these kinds of heavy handed attempts to restrict First Amendment property rights. We do not scare so easily.
We immediately hired an attorney who specializes in zoning matters and filed an appeal based on the information given to us by the planning and zoning employee, the illegal way in which the “emergency stop gap” zoning amendment was handled, the fact that the zoning ordinance exempted memorials at the time of construction, the invalidity of the zoning ordinance amendment in that is specifically eliminates the flagpole exemption in ONE zone only, and that all of these attempts are in fact discriminatory and unconstitutional applications of the zoning ordinance designed specifically to force the removal of a Confederate Memorial Battle Flag.
The appeal will be heard tomorrow night, July 18th at 7:00 p.m. at the Louisa County Office building, located at 1 Woolfolk Avenue, Louisa, VA 23093. The meeting is a public hearing and we encourage all LOUISA COUNTY RESIDENTS to attend and speak and ask the Board of Zoning Appeals to reverse the determination of the planning and zoning board and allow the memorial to remain since it was erected before the zoning changes were made, we acted on good faith based on the information given, and since the First Amendment guarantees us the right to fly whatever flag we wish on private property.