Free to fly the big flag? North Carolina city considers rule change in fight with RV store

An RV company in North Carolina that ran afoul of city rules by flying a giant flag outside its store may be free to let the banner wave for a long time, as the city of Statesville announced Wednesday it's considering a rules change.

The city had filed a lawsuit against Camping World, the parent company of Gander RV, demanding that it take down the 40 by 80-foot flag waving over the RV store because it doesn’t comply with a sizing limit on flags: 25 feet by 40 feet.

Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World and reality TV host of CNBC’s “The Profit,” claimed he would go to jail before removing the flag, even as the city hit the company with a $50-a-day fine retroactive since October 2018 if the company didn’t replace the flag with a smaller version.

The giant American flag blows at Gander RV, in Statesville, N.C., in an undated photo. (Jennifer Munday/Camping World, AP, File)

The giant American flag blows at Gander RV, in Statesville, N.C., in an undated photo. (Jennifer Munday/Camping World, AP, File)

NORTH CAROLINA CITY FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST RV COMPANY FOR FLYING AMERICAN FLAG OUT OF CITY ORDINANCE

Gander originally applied for a permit in June 2018 to install a 40-foot-by-25-foot flag, which was compliant with the city code, but instead made plans to put up a larger flag, which the city had opposed, in September 2018.

"I don't think there should be any ordinance of any kind regulating the size of the American flag" unless it poses a hazard, Lemonis told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The city’s change of heart may have come after a slew of social media support for the big flag being flown outside of Gander RV.

Statesville Mayor Costi Kutteh recommended amending the ordinance, which will be voted on July 15 by the city council and needs two votes to pass.

“In speaking with city council members, I believe this is the direction the majority of council would like to go at this time,” Kutteh said in a statement Wednesday. “Some terrible things have been said about our wonderful town and it hasn’t come from our citizens.  But people from all over the country have jumped on this issue and called us names I can’t repeat.  When our community’s efforts to conduct business in an orderly, lawful manner begins to hurt our businesses, then it’s time to put a stop to it.”

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Lemonis, a Lebanese-born immigrant who was adopted by American parents, has 180 other stores with flags the same size as the one in Statesville.

He pegged the government intervention "a bunch of bureaucrats in a small town in North Carolina who decided that the size they deem appropriate is going to be in the ordinance.”