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Fla. mayor says dealership can keep flags

UPI News Service, 04/04/2012 

The mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla., said an ordinance will be re-evaluated after a car dealership was cited for flying 11 U.S. flags.

Mayor Bill Foster said Tuesday enforcement of the sign ordinance, which allows businesses to fly no more than three flags, will be suspended and officials will re-evaluate the rules after the Maher Chevrolet dealership was ordered to take down all but three of its flags and pay a $143 fine, the Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, reported Wednesday.

Foster said he believes larger businesses, such as the car dealership, "should have the right to fly more than three flags."

Michael Maher, owner of the dealership, said the flags have been flying at his business for more than 20 years and he never received a citation until December.

"I'm very naive, but I couldn't imagine anyone would be talking about taking down the American flag," Maher said. "So put me in the naive category. It's just hard to believe."

St. Petersburg Assistant City Attorney Erica Smith said the city did not intend to target the U.S. flag. She said the city's ordinance limits the number of flags but does not regulate content.

Foster and Smith said they do not know what led to the dealership being cited.

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