There will soon be a giant American flag flying near Interstate 75 in Georgetown.
The Georgetown Board of Adjustments approved a permit for a 150-foot flagpole which will fly the 5,000 square foot flag. The flag will be placed in near the Georgetown Camping World location near the southbound side of Exit 125. The national recreational vehicle store will open Saturday.
The approval follows months of controversy after the flag was initially denied.
The saga began in January when Camping World applied for a high-rise sign and a 130 foot flagpole to fly a 3,200 square foot flag. The Georgetown Board of Adjustment approved the high-rise sign, but denied the flagpole because a flagpole over 32 feet in height would have been considered a second interstate sign and city sign ordinances only allow for one interstate sign per parcel.
The Georgetown City Council discussed and passed an amended sign ordinance in May, which would allow for non-commercial flags, such as an American flag, to be treated different than signs. Commercial signs, such as a sign that displayed a company logo, would be treated as another sign if it was over a certain height.
At Monday’s meeting, Susan Craft, a member of the city board of adjustment, questioned if the American flag was being used for commercial purposes and referenced a Herald-Leader Camping World advertisement which read in part: “The biggest savings, the biggest brand names all under the biggest flag.”
“Did you just make that flag a commercial flag?” she asked Dave Hildebrandt, general manager of the Georgetown Camping World.
Hildebrandt said it was not uncommon for other companies to use American flags to advertise their products.
“If you look in a newspaper on Memorial Day, Fourth of July, around any holiday, any automobile dealer in the country is using the flag to brand themselves,” he said. “I cannot deny that Camping World and the flag are tied together, but we’re tied together for the right reasons. The same way that the flag hangs there, it’s about doing business in a community like this, in a country like this.”
Camping World began erecting large American flags outside of its stores in 2014 to honor veterans.
Mark Hammel, a member of the city board of adjustment, said the flag size was unusual but did not have any problems with the flag.
“The location is right. It’s not going to harm anybody. It’s centrally located to their property,” he said.
The Georgetown Board of Adjustment approved the permit 4-0. Two members were absent.
Despite voting for the permit, Craft was unhappy about the sign ordinance change.
“They (the Georgetown city council) did our job for us,” she said after the meeting.