Hyde Park store allowed to fly international flags again

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by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

kvue.com

Posted on August 27, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 27 at 6:40 PM

AUSTIN -- It's known as the "Flag Store" in Hyde Park, and several customers grew concerned after Austin City Code Enforcement forced them to take down nearly 20 international flags.

The owner of Hyde Park Market says he was told to remove the flags or else he would have to pay a fine of $2,000 a day. The flags' removal disappointed many regular customers.  

"Ya, it's weird, but it's not offensive. I don't know who would have a problem with international flags. I was sad because I do feel like it's an Austin landmark for this part of town," said Sabrina Sulak, a University of Texas international studies senior student.

The flags have flown undisturbed for five years. The owner says a city code enforcement officer told him the flags were considered "signs" and were in violation of code compliance.

"For them to try to take down those flags, that's infringing on our rights. It's not cool. It's always those one bad eggs that ruin the whole bunch. We need to start saying 'no' to them and let more and more freedom pop up. This ain't right," said regular customer Aaron Shields.

City of Austin City Code Enforcement inspectors tell KVUE News the complaint was made anonymously. It's not clear whether it came from a resident or a business. They also say the code violation was a mistake.

"We believe our code enforcement officer made a mistake by misinterpreting the code. The flags should not be considered signs and therefore should not be a problem. We will arrange a meeting with the owner of the store to let him know which signs are in violation and that he can replace the flags he removed," said Paul Tomasovic with City of Austin Code Enforcement.

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