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Source: ABC2
Date: October 13, 2010
Byline: Roosevelt Leftwich

County removes street flag, some neighbors angry

Patriotic or a hazard?

NOTTINGHAM, Md. — They were at it for more than a hour and it still hadn't all come off.

But old glory was fading slowly much to the chagrin of some neighbors who rather liked it.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with it if people want to express how we should support our troops that's one way to do it but it was considered graffiti so the county came and said they were taking it away." Alberta Avenue Resident Lisa Pleasant says.

The meticulously painted flag and words took up about a quarter of the block.

It was big, very big with a simple message to support our troops and a service member named Justin with a very accurate eight foot by five foot flag right in the middle.

Neighbors say the flag mysteriously appeared in the middle of the street.

But mystery or not the county says it has to go.

County Highways Director Tim Burgess told ABC Two news that a complaint from an anonymous neighbor brought the street flag to the attention of the county.

He says the permanence of the paint makes it a road hazard in wet conditions and you just can't mess with a public street like that.

Burgess says quote..."Baltimore County can not discriminate over what is painted on public property, whether it's a flag or graffiti that is inflammatory, or an advertisement for a business."

He adds that quote "Whoever did it did a heck of a job, but you can't deface public property."

But after more than an hour of scrubbing the thing just won't fade...the county crew will have to leave and come back with more removers.

The neat lettering and bright colors were put down with quality and permanence in mind....something that neighbors say is a sign that the street flag should stay.

"Yeah I do think it's the county being goofy I really do it's a minor thing there are more important things that could be done in the county instead of paying people and wasting time to do something like that cleaning it up." Pleasant says.

The display may not have been appropriate for another reason. According to the flag code, the United States flag should never touch the ground.

And the fact this was painted on the ground, where traffic went over it for four months could be looked at as disrespectful.

Meantime Burgess says the county would like to know who did this so they could send them a bill of defacing public property. Because it tied up five men for hours who could have been doing something else.

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