STATESVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) – Statesville’s mayor announced a settlement agreement Monday night that would allow the large American flag to continue flying at Gander RV by Interstate 77.
Officials say city council came out of executive session and the mayor announced the settlement agreement. The agreement includes Gander paying $14,350 for violation and $2,000 for legal costs and the city amending the ordinance so that the current flag is in compliance.
WBTV has requested a copy of the agreement.
On Monday night, city council unanimously approved the first reading of the request to amend the ordinance to allow the larger flag. Officials say a date has been set for the second reading later this month.
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Gander RV and Camping World, tweeted Monday night in reaction to the announcement.
“Thank you to all that felt the need to support. The city of Statesville has great people and I will continue to support. Would love to donate the same size flag to downtown Statesville,” Lemonis tweeted.
The flag had been at the center of recent controversy, and previously went against the city code.
Council member John Staford brought this flag issue up for a vote again. He suggested that Monday night’s outcome on the flag might be different because of elections coming up.
“Statesville is nearing a new election and three of the ‘no’ votes on this issue have chosen not to run,” said Staford.
“The flag is not going to come down,” said Lemonis.
Lemonis has stood firm on keeping the flag up at his business off I-77. He says it’s all about honoring veterans.
“[It] belongs to this country. Belongs to the men and women who have died for this country. That’s what it represents,” said veteran Gary Butts.
“Fly a flag whether it’s 10 feet long or 100 feet long – as long as it’s not hurting anything,” said another resident.
But it has been hurting Gander’s wallet. They’ve been racking up $50 per-day fines because the flag’s size goes against a city ordinance.
Lemonis says they intend to pay.
“Him flying that flag causes no harm and endangers no one,” said Staford. “This is an item that should have never come to fruition or reared its ugly head.”
Before the meeting, Staford said with municipal elections in Statesville on Tuesday, Oct. 8, Monday night’s council vote could be different.
“I thought this was a good opportunity to give the existing council a chance to correct this embarrassment to our city before they leave office,” said Staford.
WBTV reached out to council members Roy West, Michael Johnson and Keith Williams – the council members who previously voted no on changing the ordinance. West and Williams did not return calls and Johnson said to “wait and see” about the outcome of the meeting.
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