By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Statesville, North Carolina, city officials and Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis have come to terms. Statesville gets the money, Lemonis keeps his flag.
After a closed-door session prior to last Monday’s city council meeting, an agreement was completed that ends a long fight over an oversized U.S. flag that Lemonis had flown over the Gander store in the North Carolina city. Months back, Gander raised a 40′ by 80′ American flag, in violation of Statesville’s ordinances, which most recently limited flags to a maximum of 25′ by 40′. Code enforcers approached Gander about the violation, and the company refused to take the flag down. With fanfare, Lemonis said he’d rather go to jail than to come into compliance.
The majority of city counselors were just as entrenched. Last June they voted down a proposed ordinance that would have allowed larger flags. When they did, the council came under fire. In a now-removed media release, Statesville’s mayor wrote, “People from all over the country have jumped on this issue and called us names I can’t repeat. When our community’s efforts to conduct business in an orderly, lawful manner begins to hurt our businesses, then it’s time to put a stop to it.”
Perhaps the settlement will finally put a stop to it. Lemonis’ company will pay fines for the unlawful flag flying to the tune of $14,350, in addition to $2,000 in court costs. For its part, the city will rewrite its flag ordinance, allowing Gander’s 3,200 square footer, by specifically allowing the area where Gander’s store is located to have the larger flag.
In a Tweet, Lemonis said the city was a great place, and even offered to donate another huge flag to be flown over downtown Statesville. Just how that idea will fly with the city council is yet to be seen.
So, asks RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury, was this about patriotism or publicity? Read his thoughts.