Scott County

Camping World CEO upset Georgetown won’t allow large American flag

The CEO of a major company is upset over controversy surrounding the American flag and his business.

Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, tweeted Tuesday “what’s up with not allowing a #Americanflag at @CampingWorld.” The tweet, which was directed at the City of Georgetown, had more than 240 retweets as of Monday afternoon.

Camping World sells recreation vehicles and outdoor gear. It has a Kentucky location in Bowling Green.

The Georgetown Camping World, which is set to open this summer, is located near the southbound side of Exit 125 on Interstate 75.

Lemonis offered more detail in a follow-up email to the Herald-Leader. Lemonis said approval for a 110-foot tall sign near the interstate was obtained from the Georgetown Board of Adjustment in January, but a request for a 130-foot flag was denied because it would constitute a second interstate sign and having two interstate signs for one business is not allowed by city zoning ordinances.

“Interesting to equate the flag to a sign. I’m sorry but this is ridiculous,” the email read.

Matt Summers, a planner with the Georgetown-Scott County Planning Commission, confirmed only one interstate sign is allowed on the property. A sign greater than 25 feet tall, located near an interstate exit, and advertising an entity are among the requirements to be considered an interstate sign, according to Georgetown sign ordinances. Permission for an interstate sign must be obtained through a conditional use permit.

Camping World already received a conditional use permit for a high-rise sign of 110 feet, so the request for a 130-foot flagpole was denied, Georgetown Board of Adjustment meeting minutes revealed.

However, Summers said flags under 32 feet tall do not need approval from the Board of Adjustment. Because Camping World's proposed flagpole would have been over 32 feet in height, it would have been considered an interstate sign under the sign ordinances.

When asked what would be the next course of action, Lemonis replied in an email saying that flags that were more than 100 feet in height are at other Camping Worlds across the nation.

“Can’t imagine that Georgetown should be different,” the email read.

In a 2014 blog post on its website, Camping World said it would begin flying massive flags outside of its stores. In the blog post, Lemonis said the flags would fly to honor the United States and veterans. In many instances, flag maintenance is designated to a specific employee of a store, the blog post added.

Lemonis said he intends to appeal, but state law says Board of Adjustment actions are considered final after 30 days.