Local veteran wins dispute over American flag mailbox

Published: Aug. 2, 2017 at 5:03 PM EDT
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By: Amy Robinson | WCTV Eyewitness News

August 7, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A veteran who became ensnared in a dispute with a local homeowners' association over a patriotic mailbox wrap says the display will get to stay.

Retired U.S. Navy Officer John Ackert says the Southwood Residential Community Association is changing its rules and will now allow American flag wraps on mailboxes in the Southwood neighborhood.

Ackert says he was informed of the news on Monday and that the rule change is already in effect.

The decision came after Ackert received a letter stating that his flag mailbox cover violated HOA rules and would have to be removed.

Ackert wrote an appeal and the SCRA held a meeting to review the rules before ultimately deciding on the change.

By: Erika Fernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News
Updated -- August 3, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- There's a dispute brewing over a patriotic mailbox wrap in Tallahassee. The homeowners' association says it's not allowed.

The Southwood Residential Community Association sent a letter to the veteran who put up the wrap, asking him to remove it or face penalties. However, the veteran said he's not backing down without a fight.

"It’s not in consonance with their aesthetic values here in Southwood," said retired U.S. Navy Officer, John Ackert.

Ackert received the notice last week.

"As the holiday season comes to a close, please remove the American flag mailbox wrap. Decoration may be displayed 30 days prior and must be taken down 15 days after,” Ackert continues. "That’s been there for four years. It was put there 30 days after I moved into this house."

Now, Ackert is standing up for what he believes in. He wrote an appeal and hopes the SRCA changes its mind.

"I view this as a form of bullying to be honest. And I think people should stand up to bullying of any form, and particularly this," Ackert said.

Neighbors in Southwood said the patriotism is refreshing, and the letter was a bit harsh.

"The man’s a veteran, he served the country. It's just a mailbox with a flag, I don't think it's right. He owns the house, he can at least have that," said neighbor, Mike Patel.

Residents receive a binder full of rules and standards before moving into Southwood. Many said they're not surprised by the H.O.A.'s actions.

"They do things like this all the time. I think it's ridiculous. What's wrong with being patriotic in the country you live in?" said neighbor, Mike Stephenson.

The letter said Ackert has 15 days to remove the wrap, or face a fine. He is appealing the request.

On Thursday, the Southwood Residential Community Association responded to Ackert's appeal, saying they will present it to the Covenants Committee for a decision on August 8.

We reached out to the SRCA on this issue. They say they are investigating it, but they have no comment at this time.