The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

August 12, 2010

Memo roils AMHA resident

Tenants must get consent to fly American flag

KINGSVILLE TOWNSHIP — Ronald Di Nickle did not fly flags in front of his South Ridge Village Estates apartment until last week, when the memo arrived from Darla Jones of the Ashtabula Metro-politan Housing Authority office.

The memo was regarding the “alterations and attachments” clau-se in the resident lease agreement. The notice insists all wind chimes, hanging plants, signs, banners and flags outside the units “must be taken down immediately.”

That angered Di Nickle, who has lived at the estates for 11 years and is tired of what he feels is undue “needling” of residents about minor issues. He went out and purchased two flags, one of them an American flag with a Native American’s image above the star field, and placed them in front of his apartment.

James Noyes, AMHA executive director, said the memo that went out to the Estates’ 40 households last week has since been clarified with a second letter, which should arrive today. He said the policy in no way prohibits residents from flying an American flag or putting up a hanging flower basket at their apartment. However, it does require written permission from AMHA before the alteration or attachment is made.

“There’s no change in policy,” Noyes said. “We’re just asking them to follow the lease rules.”

He said the authority has been lax on enforcing the policy, and the memo was to remind residents of the agreement they signed. The policy originates with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which sets the house rules. He said the intention of the policy is to prevent residents from making changes to their apartments that would require the authority to spend money on repairing or redecorating the building.

Di Nickle, 68, who has multiple health problems, said he has had many disputes with AMHA and gets angry every time he receives a memo reminding residents of another restriction.

“Every time I get these letters, my blood pressure goes higher,” he said. “How can they stop somebody from flying an (American) flag?”

Noyes said the policy is not intended to keep residents from showing their patriotism; however, they must obtain permission in writing before attaching a flag to the apartment.

Di Nickle said an AMHA employee walked around the Estates on Tuesday and was taking notes.

“She looked at my flags, and she wrote something down. I figure I’ll get a letter telling me to come up there,” Di Nickle said. “I’m not going to go up there. I’m not at their beck and call. They know where I’m at.”

Di Nickle said most of the residents at the Estates, himself included, have no surviving family members and nowhere else to go; thus, they acquiesce to AMHA’s every demand. Di Nickle said he won’t be taking down his two flags, and he’s bracing for another dispute.

“It’s ‘Do it my way or the highway’ with them,” he said.

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