Kody Sorenson, the owner of Big Bob's Flooring Outlet, thinks it's unconstitutional that Sandy ticketed him for having 10 American flags on top of his business and he wants to fight the citation.
Greg Skordas, Sorenson's attorney, entered a not guilty plea on Sorenson's behalf in Sandy Justice Court on Tuesday.
Sorenson was cited with violating Sandy's "signs without a permit" law that forbids the use of more than one "official" flag such as an American flag without permission from the city planning commission.
"We plan to contest not only the charges but the constitutionality of the statute," Skordas said. "I think any statute that precludes a person from putting up an American flag is probably unconstitutional."
The American Civil Liberties Union is interested in the case and wants to participate. The next step is a pretrial hearing where both sides are expected to try to find a resolution before proceeding to trial.
Nick Duerksen, Sandy's assistant community development director, said the city's code restricts the number of official flags that can be flown in one location. "It refers to the American flag, state flag, corporate flag. If you fly more than one, it must be reviewed by the planning commission."
City ordinances were updated a while ago after residents expressed concerns that some business owners were using the American flag in an inappropriate fashion, while others were concerned about a large number of flags making noise.
"In this particular case, we actually got some complaints and concerns expressed to us that the flag was being used for commercial purposes," Duerksen said. "But we don't get into that so much as the requirement for planning commission approval for more than one official flag."
So, what about the requirement for planning commission approval?
"I think the city has every right to have reasonable laws dealing with its aesthetics, dealing with fair business," Skordas said. "But you can't regulate a person's right to fly an American flag. That's not an advertisement.
"Have you seen the building? It's probably 30 feet tall and the flags are on top of the building. The statute is clearly designed, in my opinion, to keep advertisements tasteful and make sure people aren't putting up giant gorillas and flags and balloons at the drop of a hat," Skordas said. "You have to get permission to do that and that kind of statute makes sense, but these flags I don't think could be seen as an advertisement."To me that's a symbol of patriotism, but I guess that's why we have courts."