NC City Votes Against Reality TV Star’s Giant Flag

In this undated handout photo provided by Camping World, a large American flag blows in the wind at Gander RV in Statesville, N.C. (Jennifer Munday/Camping World, AP)

STATESVILLE, N.C. (CN) – Officials for a North Carolina city declined Monday night to change an ordinance to allow the flying of oversized flags, rebuking reality TV star Marcus Lemonis and the massive Old Glory outside his RV dealership.

Lemonis, the star of CNBC’s reality show “The Profit,” is the chief executive officer of Camping World. His business, which owns Gander RV in Statesville, North Carolina, has been at odds with the city since last month.

Statesville sued Lemonis’ company because Gander was in violation of an ordinance that bans flags larger than 25 feet by 40 feet along the interstate, where the recreational vehicle lot is located.

At a meeting on Monday night, the Statesville City Council voted down an amendment that would have loosened the restrictions to allow Lemonis’ 40 feet by 80 feet American flag to fly in the highway business zone.

“This means the Gander RV flag remains out of compliance,” Statesville Public Affairs Director Nancy Davis said in a statement Tuesday.

Lemonis stated publicly in May that he would not remove the American flag, even if that means he is jailed for contempt, and the city then agreed to review the ordinance.

Three city officials – C.O. Johnson, John Staford and Steve Johnson – voted to allow Gander’s massive banner. Council members William Morgan, Roy West, Doris Allison, Keith Williams and Michael Johnson voted against changing the ordinance.

“The vote does not affect the injunction filed against Gander RV in May which asks the court to order Gander RV to comply with the ordinance and pay a $50 per day fine,” Davis told Courthouse News.

In a video shared with his hundreds of thousands of social media followers in response to the city’s decision, Lemonis said Monday night he will pay the fines but will not remove the flag under any circumstances.

“I would understand if the flag pole or the size of a flag was a problem for air traffic control, which it is not, or it was putting people’s health wellness and safety in jeopardy, which it also is not,” Lemonis said in the video.

He said most of his businesses, including a South Carolina BBQ joint, have and will continue to have a star-spangled banner on the premises.

Lemonis, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, started a petition on change.org in support of his Statesville flag last month.

“This is about more than just the flag,” the petition states. “This is about our veterans, military and the men and women that have sacrificed for this great country. They are the reason we fly the flag and they are the reason we will not take it down.”

As of Tuesday, more than 300,000 supporters of the Gander RV flag have signed Camping World’s petition.

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