LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – The residents of the Kensington Ridge neighborhood aren’t hesitant to fly their colors. College, sports teams and American flags are displayed in front of several homes throughout the community. That’s why Ben and Kara Wilkoff were confused when their HOA said their “Blacks Lives Matter” flag must come down.
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The BLM flag has been displayed in front of the Wilkoffs’ home since August.
“We got the flag because it’s a symbol of solidarity. It’s a symbol of change. It’s a symbol of support for Black Lives,” said Kara Wilkoff, a 12-year resident of the neighborhood.
In December, the couple received a letter from the HOA saying their flag is not approved.
“I looked in the bylaws to figure out if we were breaking a rule. There are things about flag poles and there are things about signage. There isn’t anything about an actual flag,” said Kara. “We said, ‘Okay we’ll go through the approval process’ and we left our flag up. It said we had 10 days to submit that to what’s called an architectural review committee.”
In February, the HOA responded to their application for flag approval. Their request was denied.
“It says, ‘Thank you for submitting your architectural review request for a flag. At this time, your request has been denied.’ That’s it,” said Ben. “They can’t cite us for a specific reason. We have multiple requests asking to please explain the denial. For whatever reason, we just can’t get an answer to that.”
According to the HOA, homeowners are given a courtesy notice and a warning before residents start receiving fines for violations.READ MORE: 'Doing Nothing Is Not An Option': New Denver International Airport CEO Phil Washington Vows To Fix Long Lines
Other homeowners in the community told the Wilkoffs they have ordered similar flags to display in support. Kara went door-to-door asking neighbors to sign a petition that would allow them to keep the BLM flag. Seventeen neighbors answered the door. Twelve signed the petition, five did not.
“It wasn’t my goal then, nor is it my goal today, to have a discussion about Black Lives Matter as a movement. It was about the ability to have a symbol of support on my own property that promotes inclusion and is really important to me,” said Kara.
Black Lives Matter flags have been controversial in neighborhoods across the country. There have been incidents where homeowners have sued their HOA for demanding they take the flag down. The Wilkoff couple doesn’t want it to get that far.
What they want is a conversation, or at very least, an explanation.
“We’d love to have open dialogue. I mean, how else do things change? Let’s talk. Let’s figure it out. Let’s listen to what each other has to say. The flag is going to stay up,” said Kara.
A neighbor, who the Wilkoffs don’t know personally, called on the HOA to have an emergency meeting regarding their flag. He said quote: “The concerns about property values is even greater now with bad media publicity and the potential for a protest in our neighborhood.”
The HOA board reached out to the Wilkoffs Thursday to set up a meeting to discuss the flag.
The Board of Directors for Kensington Ridge Cobblestone Village responded to CBS4 requests for comment the day after this post was published. The statement was added at that time.MORE NEWS: Husband, Wife Headed To Prison After Shooting At Other Drivers In Denver Area
The statement from PCMS community manager James Fletcher reads, “Our property Management company is working with the homeowners to find solutions that meet the legal and social demands of this problem. We make every effort to apply our homeowners covenants consistently and impartially. Those covenants allow for signs only for sale and during elections. Now that the elections are over, we are working with the volunteer board and other homeowners to find a mutually agreeable outcome. We have notified all homeowners with signs on display of the sign restrictions, whether the message is sports or issue related. While we work toward agreement and possible updates to our covenants, we have suspended enforcement on the Wilkoff’s sign. We are confident that we can best resolve this or any disagreements by encouraging neighbors to dialogue directly with other neighbors.”