Flag rule doesn't fly here - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Flag rule doesn't fly here

Cd'A considers dumping flagpole fee

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Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 9:30 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

COEUR d'ALENE - If a rule's not followed or enforced, is it really a rule?

And if the mostly ignored rule could also be viewed as, say, slightly unpatriotic, wouldn't it be best to get it off the books, ASAP?

Apparently so, according to the city of Coeur d'Alene, which is considering amending its building code to wipe away the $72 residential flagpole fee.

The fee is exactly what it sounds like.

Residents who want to put a flagpole in front of their homes should pay the city $47 for a permit to do so, plus $25 for a site review.

"My God," Coeur d'Alene resident Doug Shevalier said when he learned of the little-known rule recently. "What city in the U.S. would tell a veteran or any homeowner they can't fly a flag without paying?"

Shevalier, who served in the Army, put a brand new 16-foot pole, topped with the Stars and Stripes, in front of his Landings at Waterford home earlier this year after he received it as a Christmas gift from his kids.

He didn't pay the fee though, unaware of the rule at the time. He only learned of the rule when a fellow subdivision resident told Shevalier, who sits on the neighborhood's architectural control committee. In fact, Shevalier has approved tons of flagpoles neighbors have brought to the neighborhood board for review over the years.

"I had no idea," he said.

Shevalier still doesn't plan on paying his fee either, and approached the city about the rule.

Now, everyone could be off the hook, as the city's Public Works Committee is recommending the city do away with it.

"There's all this weird stuff tucked in there," said Woody McEvers, City Councilman, on the rules and regulations of building codes in general, namely the flagpole permit. "Let's make some adjustments,"

The kicker?

The flagpole permitcame from the International Residential Code, which was adopted by the state as the codes to use, according to Ted Lantzy, senior buildinginspector for Coeur d'Alene. Most municipalities, likewise, adopted the state's rules.

As for local enforcement?

"We have never issued any stop works or done enforcement on flag poles," Lantzy said, adding he can remember around three residential permits issued in the last 10 years.

Commercial flagpole permits are different, he said, as builders usually adhere to them as those projects are to a much larger scale and require an engineer's review to be properly installed.

If the city did away with the residential permit, it would expect little to no financial impact from the change, staff reports state.

Another route the city is considering is amending the building code at the state level so it's uniform across Idaho. Not every city adopted the flagpole permit portion of the rule though, the city of Hayden being one example.

The allowed height for a flag pole is limited by the maximum height allowed for a building in the particular zone, so in a typical residential district, it's around 32 feet.

The intent of the permit is to ensure the flagpole is sturdy and doesn't fall over and cause damage, something that Shevalier said is unlikely in residential areas where the poles are typically up to 18 feet, and often made out of aluminum. He said he's optimistic the city will change the rule, with which the advisory panel PWC agreed.

The topic will go before the City Council at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Community Room of the public library.

"Politicians love this kind of stuff," said City Councilman Dan Gookin, who favors erasing it.

Patriotic topics, like the American flag atop a flagpole where there's a fee, tend to bring out passionate speeches from politicians, he said.

"If it was anything else besides a flag, nobody would care," Gookin said. "But this is the flag. All the sudden it's a patriotic issue. We could have Bill O'Reilly coming here and saying, 'Why doesn't Coeur d'Alene allow flags?'"

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  • Joseph Jr posted at 8:20 am on Fri, Aug 24, 2012.

    Joseph Jr Posts: 512

    QUOTE: ""We have never issued any stop works or done enforcement on flag poles," Lantzy said, adding he can remember around three residential permits issued in the last 10 years."

    Lantzy and the city have accepted payment from at least three residential property owners in 10 years? Don't you think Lantzy should have gone to the council at last ONCE and brought this up, rather than take money from just a few? Perfectly legal yes, ehtically honest no.

    I agree the height of the pole should be no taller than the highest roof peak.

  • Mark on the Park posted at 12:58 pm on Mon, Aug 20, 2012.

    Mark on the Park Posts: 471

    By the same token, one should be able to put a swimming pool, or fence, or shop, or sidewalks and driveways without an inspection or permit, right?

    I can't see how, say, a 100 foot tall flagpole with a 200sf flag (hit Google - it's happened) might possibly cause problems with property line or easement/right-of-way encroachment, can you?

    So, an inspection with a fee that pays for it seems appropriate, but not a permit fee.

  • dtsinidaho posted at 11:42 pm on Sun, Aug 19, 2012.

    dtsinidaho Posts: 197

    And, Dan promptly called Fox News after being interviewed. Let the big media come in. It shows that the local governing body is looking into issues. That is good, some laws make no sense now. It sounds like the Elected officials are listening and talking with the city personnel, in order to get full information on the law before repealing it. And yet the malcontents spew thier hate on these comment pages.

    Must be hard to be so angry at EVERYTHING. But guys like AT and IdahoJerk just spew their congestion of their anger of neighbors and their fellowman.

  • ancientemplar posted at 8:22 pm on Sun, Aug 19, 2012.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1150

    Oh come I'm cap'n they blindly adopted. The intellect code.

  • capnbutch posted at 11:05 am on Sun, Aug 19, 2012.

    capnbutch Posts: 729

    A good reporter could settle everyone's blood pressure down by revealing of the secret behind the rule. Good folks would like to know why it was written in the first place. Becha there's a good reason!

  • idaholiberal posted at 10:16 am on Sun, Aug 19, 2012.

    idaholiberal Posts: 179

    PLEASE! Somebody do something quick. We don't want Bill O'Reilly to come here.

  • DeNiles posted at 8:09 am on Sun, Aug 19, 2012.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    Well the issue needs to get resolved somehow. Why? Because there are additional strings attached to any building code violation. If you are out of code compliance with any addition to your property you must divulge that fact if you try to sell the property. If you have a homeowners insurance claim that in any manner impacts that pole it will not be covered by your policy. If your home owners insurance carrier learns of any code violation they'd likely cancel your policy just as a matter of their own policy. If this development has CC&R's they will require code compliance. If some idiot should accidently come onto your property, hit that pole and get injured........ they will sue you if some civic code was not met.

    Figure it out. My own perspective: Some of these poles can be huge and heavy. They can be errantly placed in hazardous locations. They can be dangerous if not installed correctly. Get them inspected but waive the fees.

  • ancientemplar posted at 7:46 am on Sun, Aug 19, 2012.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1150

    I didn't know that the international building code published fine amounts in the code. I guess some C'dA bureaucrat thought they'd make a contribution the the city's formula for it's revenue stream or the city just needed the money from the residential poles to offset the money being spent on McPark.

    By the way, I fly my flag everyday on a 25 ft.fiberglass pole..

  • I Carry posted at 7:19 am on Sun, Aug 19, 2012.

    I Carry Posts: 421

    OMG !! &%%^# %!)* (*&) ^%$@^^ politicians!!!! Idahoguy has the right idea. I've flown a United States flag for over 35 years, at all the homes I've owned. No pemit nor did I ask permission to fly such a flag. I attatch the flag to a post on the house.
    I can not believe the government at ANY level would require such a charge to fly our symbol of freedom. There must be something more important for our elected officials to do then consider items like this.
    voxpop, I believe in rules. However, common sense must rear its ugly head sometime.
    Oh, I didn't know a permit is required to fly our flag.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 7:05 am on Sun, Aug 19, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Get LOST, "voxpop".
    The problem is NOT "the pole".
    The PROBLEM is the "International Residential Code" that our idiot politicians have decided that we need to live by. I CARE LESS about anything that is "International" in nature.

    You; on the other hand, are behind "internationalism" because it reinforces communism.
    Fly thos flags PROUDLY, my friends.

  • voxpop posted at 6:35 am on Sun, Aug 19, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    "My God," Coeur d'Alene resident Doug Shevalier said when he learned of the little-known rule recently. "What city in the U.S. would tell a veteran or any homeowner they can't fly a flag without paying?"

    Answer: most.

    It's not the flag that's the issue, it's the pole. Same for electrical codes, plumbing codes, etc. In Idaho no one wants the govt to regulate anything. But as soon as something or someone crosses them up they run to a lawyer. Codes are for everyone's safety and make sense ... and should be enforced.

  • idahoguy posted at 6:06 am on Sun, Aug 19, 2012.

    idahoguy Posts: 932

    I would never pay a dime to a politician so I can have their permission to fly a flag on my private property.. I and I alone also decide when I will fly my flag at half mast. If someone dies in order for me to show the respect for them by lowering the flag I first had to have said respect for them while they were alive. Respect ain't automatic around this place ,,, it is earned.

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