Zoning board denies Confederate flag appeal

LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- After two hours of discussion and a public hearing, the Louisa County Board of Zoning Appeals denied an appeal made by the Virginia Flaggers to keep a Confederate flag by Interstate 64 the way that it is.

Last March, the flag was erected in honor of all Confederate soldiers, specifically for Private Richard Willis Proffitt, but the zoning administrator for the county said the flagpole breaks a county code.

According to the county's zoning ordinance, other permitted buildings and structures are allowed a 60-foot maximum for height unless a zoning appeal or building permit is approved. This rule excludes certain sites such as silos, church spires and monuments.

However, the county reports the flagpole reaches 120 feet and claims the Virginia Flaggers didn't seek approval before installing it.

In April, the county sent out a violation notice to the Virginia Flaggers, telling the group to either reduce the height of the flagpole, apply for a special exception with the board of supervisors, or remove it.

However, the group decided to appeal this, saying the flagpole is a monument and doesn't fall under the zoning ordinance.

Members of the Virginia Flaggers spoke during the meeting, emphasizing their right to honor their ancestors.

"We are people out to honor our ancestors and we want to abide by the law. If anything, we are law-abiding individuals," said Susan Hathaway, one of the members. "We're not here to make trouble, we're here to do what we thought what was the right thing to do."

"But you ought to be ashamed if you don't want to recognize the people who fought and died for this county and this state," said Grayson Jennings, another member from the Virginia Flaggers.

Dozens of residents also spoke during the public hearing for this appeal, leaving mixed reviews on the future of the flagpole.

Gerald Harlow, one of the residents, said this is an important symbol to keep in the community.

"It's my belief that the county is well aware that this monument should be allowed," he said. "This is clearly a memorial to Private Proffit and all the men who fought and died for the Commonwealth of Virginia."

While many supported the flag, a handful of other residents said the flag represents a bad message in the community.

Robin Patton, another county resident, said it's not about the message of the flag, but the violation it poses in the county.

"The issue to me is not so much the flag that's flying, but the way the processes and policies and laws of the counties have to be adhered to and followed by everybody," said Patton.

One of the members from the board zoning appeals said their decision could be appealed and brought up in Louisa County Circuit Court.

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