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Wethersfield considering policy requiring approval to fly most flags

The town manager says, seeing discussions happening across the state, they want to be proactive in handling future flag proposals on town properties.

WETHERSFIELD, Conn. — The Wethersfield town council is looking into how to address a topic that has created conversation across the state: what flags should be allowed on town properties.

Town Manager Frederick Presley presented the town council with a draft proposal in October that would set a standard for what types of flags would be allowed to fly. Under the proposal, the town, state, country, and Prisoner of War/Missing in Action would be the only flags allowed on town properties. However, someone looking to fly a different flag can ask the town council for permission.

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"Several communities have said, "That’s it. No other flags can ever be flown on town property." We not going that route," Presley said. "I think nowadays we're getting a lot more requests and that’s one of the reasons why we’re moving forward with this."

Presley says a factor in this proposal being drafted was the Supreme Court's decision that the City of Boston discriminated against a religious group when denying permission to fly a flag. He said the town does not have any policy already written that addresses what this proposal does.

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Religious flags, political flags, and/or business/company flags would not be considered by the town. Presley says it's not their place to represent one or another and, if one flies, they all do. The flags would be displayed for a specific time period, either the duration of such event or seven days. Stanley Pazdziora agrees with that.

"It should have town approval absolutely. It’s their property, we should have a say what goes on it. It’s actually our property," the Wethersfield resident said. "As long as it’s approved and it’s temporary, I wouldn’t have a problem."

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He said a political flag is a lot different than a Ukrainian flag hung to support the country during the war, which the town has done. It has also displayed pride flags. Presley says the community has been receptive to messages like those and sees that continuing forward.

"It’s not so much about restricting as saying what could be allowed," he said. "More than anything, it protects us from legal action down the road if we were to get into a position where we need to decline someone."

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The topic of flag-flying has been happening across Connecticut for some time. Just last week, the Stonington Board of Education approved pride flags to be hung in classrooms, if teachers choose, after parents voiced concerns. In June, Goshen board members voted to put a year-long moratorium on all flags of any organization after a pride flag on town property was met with opposition. 

Some towns have similar ordinances to what Wethersfield is considering. Colchester allows a third flag to be hung alongside the state and country flags with the approval of the Board of Selectman. It can be an MIA-POW, a town flag, or whatever else a resident brings forward. However, it cannot be for political, religious, or non-inclusive causes. 

Credit: FOX61
Only four flags will be allowed to fly at Wethersfield town properties under a proposal in front of the town council unless it approves of others.

South Windsor town council members have to approve of a commemorative or organizational flag to be flown at town properties. Similar to the Wethersfield proposal, there are flags that the town will not consider like political or religious.

While some Connecticut towns are open to other flags being flown, Tolland and Southington are not. The Southington town council voted in April that no flags other than the town, state, country, and MIA-POW can be flown on town property. There are exceptions including school flags and police or fire. Tolland does not let flags other than the state and country be flown with exceptions like MIA-POW and military.

"So long as it represents what the town's values are, I think it could certainly be appropriate," Presley said about Wethersfield.

If approved at the town council meeting on November 21st, community members would be able to comment on flag proposals in the future. He said this opens up conversations about how the town wants to be represented.

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tblack@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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