A Village of Hemingway couple is fighting to keep an American flag on display at their home.
Joseph and Margaret Ganci, of 1172 Jebber Loop, pleaded their case Thursday morning before the Community Development District 7 Board of Supervisors.
The couple moved to The Villages eight and a half years ago and found it to be “a wonderful place.”
Until Sept. 13, when they got the dreaded knock on the door, informing them their home was not in compliance.
An anonymous complaint was received Sept. 12 about three flags planted in the ground at the Gancis’ home. They were a flower flag, a Blue Lives Matter flag and an American flag. There were also statues on display. Two of the flags have been removed, the statues are down, but the American flag is still on display.
Technically, the flag – in this type of display – is classified as a “lawn ornament” in The Villages.
“How incredulous to call the American flag a ‘lawn ornament,’” said Margaret Ganci.
The American flag on display is changed every two months and a light shines on it at night, she said.
She also took a swipe at the anonymous complaint process.
“Who is ‘anonymous’ and where is that person hiding?” Ganci asked.
District Counsel Valerie Fuchs said the issue is not about the American flag.
Villagers “gave up certain constitutional rights” when they signed on the dotted line and agreed to abide by the deed restrictions, Fuchs said.
She said there is an obligation to the residents who abide by the rules.
“They bought into a community where there won’t be stuff stuck in the ground,” Fuchs said.
She added that the couple could always apply to the Architectural Review Committee for permission to erect a flagpole.
However, the CDD 7 supervisors did not see the Gancis’ red-and-blue display as quite so black and white.
“I have a problem with giving up constitutional rights and saying ‘no American flag,’” Supervisor Dennis Broedlin said.
Supervisor Jerry Vicenti called it a conflict.
“When it comes to the American flag, I think we should separate it. This is America,” Vicenti said.
The CDD 7 board has opted to research the topic and continued the public hearing until 8 a.m. Dec. 13.
The Gancis vowed to be back.
Their flag will continue to be on display until the matter is determined on Dec. 13.