By DOTTY NIST
With flags going up all over the community for July 4, coincidentally a Walton County board faced a decision last week concerning a flag on a scenic corridor.
On July 2, the Walton County Scenic Corridor Design Review Board was asked to consider approving FNBT Bank to fly a 100-square-foot corporate flag, below its American Flag, on the U.S. 98 Scenic Corridor in Miramar Beach.
The FNBT flag features a pink flamingo. According to the request, the corporate flag would be displayed one foot beneath the American flag on a 37.5-foot-tall pole.
The bank had previously displayed the corporate flag for eight months prior to being charged with a violation by Walton County Code Enforcement. The bank had opted to seek design review board approval to resolve the issue.
Flags, banners and pennants are included within the definition of “sign” by the Walton County Land Development Code. As such, with certain exceptions, they are included within the category “prohibited signs” in the Scenic Corridor Standards governing U.S. 98 and U.S. 331.
Excepted from prohibition are “(t)he official flags of the United States, State of Florida, or other flags approved by the Design Review Board…provided that the display of flags shall be limited to not more than three flags flying from a single vertical pole no taller than 40 feet.”
Tim Brown of Walton County Planning and Development Services said that no permit is required for these flag displays but that they must conform to these code requirements. Brown said the code does not set a maximum size for flags in these displays but that the board members would have discretion to set a condition for size as part of an approval.
Board Chairman Paul Smith urged caution. He noted that if the board approves this corporate flag, many other scenic corridor businesses are likely to want to fly large flags bearing their logos for advertising and “it’s not going to be very scenic.”
A FNBT representative commented that the bank’s corporate flag is smaller in size than the American flag accompanying it. She said the two flags had flown together for some time at the bank’s Fort Walton Beach location without incident. She was reminded that Fort Walton Beach is not part of a Walton County scenic corridor.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” board member Bob Johnson said of the request. He motioned for denial.
The motion was approved unanimously, resulting in denial of the request. The board members specified that their decision was based on a determination that the corporate flag was advertising in nature, in contrast with flags serving a patriotic or other noncommercial purpose.