ROSENBERG, Texas – A Rosenberg Marine Corps veteran said he and his wife were outraged when they were told they couldn't fly their American and Marine Corps flags outside their home in Rosenberg because of HOA rules.
The couple moved into the Kingdom Heights subdivision two months ago and didn't experience problems until now.
"If they're going to take them down, it's going to be a fight to take them down, and no one fights harder than a veteran combat Marine," said Corporal Michael Pereira.
Pereira said he would have died for the American and Marine Corps flags proudly displayed in the driveway of his home.
"They represent this country. They represent a brotherhood I was a part of," Pereira said.
He credits seven years in the Marine Corps for changing his life.
He was in the Marines from 2002-2009, serving three tours in Iraq. To this day, he hasn't forgotten his brothers and sisters in the service and everything he's gone through overseas.
The flags "show respect for all the people I went to war with and the ones that didn't come back," Pereira said. "I got to take them down every night and put them up every morning."
Every day he follows the flag rules. The flags don't fly when the sun is down because he does not have a light on them. What he didn't expect was a problem with his HOA's rules.
"I'm guessing somebody didn't like it or someone reported it or something because I got a call from the property manager who works for the Home Owners Association asking me to take them down," Pereira said.
His wife posted the situation on Facebook on their neighborhood page Tuesday night. Within the first hour, more than 100 comments, which showed support for Pereira.
"It doesn't bother me. I think it's kind of silly to have someone take down their flags -- especially if he fought for the country," said Ashley Johannsen, the couple's neighbor across the street.
Pereira asked the property management liaison for an exemption to the rule.
"I asked her if they can make an exemption, and she said I'd have fill out a construction modification request and send it to the HOA," Pereira said.
He's still waiting on the outcome, but he said he's not afraid to fight to keep the flags flying outside his home.
"If they don't get those rules changed, I'm going to start a petition to get the rules changed," Pereira said.
Two days after KPRC 2 aired the story, attorneys for the HOA sent a statement that said the issue is with the flagpoles erected by Pereira, not the flags.
Terry Sears, an attorney and agent for the neighborhood's HOA, said in the statement that Pereira did not submit plans or seek approval before installing the 20-foot flagpoles on either side of his driveway.
"The problem is that one of the poles is in a utility easement, both poles are within the 25-foot building setback line and the restrictions (and Texas Property Code) only allow for the installation of one flagpole," Sears said in the statement.
Sears said the HOA has contacted Pereira about the situation and the group is willing to work with him in relocating one of the poles.
The following is the entire statement from Sears:
"We are certainly not opposed to the flying of an American flag or Marine Corps flag outside one’s home, but we do request that any homeowner wanting to install a flagpole (or any structure outside of one’s home) to follow the rules and applicable law.
"In this particular case the homeowner installed two 20-foot flagpoles on both sides of his driveway
(one on each side) without first submitting the plans or seeking approval. The problem is that one
of the poles is in a utility easement, both poles are within the 25-foot building setback line and the
restrictions (and Texas Property Code) only allow for the installation of one flagpole.
"We have already reached out to the veteran to let him know that the issue is not the flags and are awaiting a response. We are certainly willing to continue to work with this veteran in relocating one of his poles and would be remise if we did not take this opportunity to thank him for his personal
sacrifice and service to our country."