- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

GREENFIELD, Ind. (AP) - After two weeks of controversy that included a demonstration of support from local veterans groups in their subdivision, Bob and Judy Willits of Greenfield will get to keep their flagpole.

An anonymous donor has paid a $500 homeowner association fine that the Willitses had refused to pay, and the parties came to an agreement Tuesday evening, Greenfield attorney Cody Coombs told the Daily Reporter (https://bit.ly/1p6i7UP ).

The Willitses get to keep their pole as it’s now configured for as long as they own their home. They will be expected to comply - along with all other residents of their subdivision - with future regulations pertaining to flying the American flag that the homeowners’ association passes in accord with the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005.

The agreement ends an impasse that turned a dispute over neighborhood covenants into a fight over patriotism. At one point, even the Hancock County prosecutor threatened to sue the homeowners group.

“As far as we’re concerned, it’s resolved,” said the Willitses’ attorney, Tom Cone. “Everything is fine.”

Kaye Eckert, president of the Fieldstone homeowners association, said Wednesday afternoon she was aware that a settlement might have been reached. But she said she had not seen any legal documents to confirm the agreement.

She was, however, glad the matter was resolved, especially given that some of the vitriolic responses she and the association had received for requesting the association’s covenants be followed.

And she wasn’t the only one who was happy Wednesday afternoon.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been better,” Judy Willits said. “We’re very pleased.”

Coombs said principals on both sides of the issue were targeted by critics, some from out of state who had read stories about the dispute. The time was right to get things resolved, he said.

“All the parties were being harassed, and I think everyone was anxious to get it over with,” Coombs said.

Added Cone: “Everybody has departed in peace.”

At one point, an agreement had seemed unlikely. The Willitses had been in a standoff with the homeowners’ association since shortly after erecting the flagpole in their front yard in July. The neighborhood group said the pole violated association rules prohibiting structures in yards.

Attempts at compromise failed. The association suggested the Willitses fly the American flag from a bracket attached to their home and offered to display a second flag, the POW/MIA ensign, from the subdivision’s community flagpole.

But Willits, a veteran of the Korean War whose brother is still officially listed as missing in action there, steadfastly refused.

The association assessed the Willitses for the $500 in legal fees it incurred pursuing the matter and removed their voting rights in the association.

The agreement restores the couple’s full status as voting residents of the neighborhood.

___

Information from: (Greenfield) Daily Reporter, https://www.greenfieldreporter.com

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