The stars and stripes controversy pitting the CEO of Camping World against a North Carolina city over the size of an American Flag has been settled.
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News outlets report Statesville Mayor Costi Kutteh announced the settlement with Marcus Lemonis allowing the flag, originally deemed too big by the city, to continue flying outside Lemonis’ Gander RV company. Camping World, a publically traded company, owns Gander, with Lemonis owning 36 million shares.
Back in May, officials from the city about 40 miles north of Charlotte sued the company over the size of the flag. The flag measures 40 feet by 80 feet (12 meters by 24 meters) and hangs on a 130-foot-high (40-meter-high) flagpole next to Interstate 77. The code limits flags to 25 feet by 40 feet (7.6 meters by 12 meters).
But recently, Statesville city leaders voted to rezone the area Gander RV sits on, making the flag compliant with the ordinance, according to Fox 46.
The settlement, which came down Monday, comes with a price according to the local Fox affiliate. Gander RV must pay over $14,000 in fines for originally breaking the ordinance, with an additional $2,000 in legal costs. The decision also means Lemonis would no longer be fined $50 a day for the violation.
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Since the lawsuit erupted, Lemonis has repeatedly lamented the city’s size ban on a huge America flag flying at his store is unconstitutional, even citing that he would rather go to jail than take the flag down.
Lemonis responded to the controversy, telling FOX Business during an interview on "Bulls & Bears” that he is in the battle for the long haul.
“We have flown this flag for a long time,” Lemonis said. “As I told the city…it’s not coming down under any circumstance.”
Attorneys for Lemonis had said in a filing that the flag “represents the fundamental values — freedom, courage and equality before the law — that unite all Americans and transcend party politics. ... In keeping with this tradition, The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized that the act of flying the flag is a form a political expression protected by the First Amendment.”
However, the filing also pointed to a North Carolina state law that says reasonable restrictions on the size of official governmental flags are allowed if necessary to protect public health, safety and welfare. Statesville’s restriction on flag size “serves no legitimate safety purpose,” the filing said.
Back in May, after declaring that he would rather go to jail before taking the flag down, the mayor issued a statement saying he had asked the city’s planning department to change the dimensions allowed for flags displayed in a highway business zone.
The move wasn't good enough for Lemonis who previously declared, “What we’re asking for and what we’re not going to back down on is ... for the city to modify the ordinance to eliminate the size of flag regulation and the size of pole regulation unless it interferes with the FAA, it interferes with people’s health, wellness or safety, or it blocks the visibility of a consumer to another person’s business."
During the interview with FOX Business, Lemonis added that the flag, which is the same size flag and pole in over 180 cities across at the RV retailer the country, is in compliance with federal aviation rules.
“We know that before the flag pole goes up and before the flag goes up we want to ensure that people are safe,” he said. “We are not messing with the FAA in terms of air traffic rules.”
The Associated Press and FOX Business' Henry Fernandez contributed to this report.