Business owner asks judge to let him remove Confederate flag
ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) — The lawyer for a South Carolina restaurant owner who wants to get rid of a Confederate flag in front of his business says it is a historical display in an area only zoned for businesses.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans were given a small piece of land in front of Edisto River Creamery in Orangeburg by the building’s previous owner.
Restaurant owner Tommy Daras no longer wants the Confederate flag out front, but the Confederate heritage group refuses to sell him the land or take it down.
Daras and the group were in court this week as Daras appealed the Orangeburg’s Zoning Board refusal to allow the owner to remove the flag, The Times and Democrat reported.
“It is very clear in looking at the record before the court that the city of Orangeburg does in fact zone for historical conservation districts,” attorney Justin Bamberg argued in court.
Daras obtained a permit and planned to dig up a marker and remove the Confederate flag at the property, which is in front of his shop. His plans for the plot include replacing the Confederate flag with the American flag.
But the Sons of Confederate Veterans won an appeal of the permit. The group said it owns the 130 square feet (12 square meters) where the flag flies, marking the site of a Civil War skirmish in 1865. The group said it’s been paying taxes on the tiny parcel of land and has a deed from the previous landowner.
Daras said the deed he was given when he purchased the site in 2015 included the land where the flag is located. He said his customers incorrectly think he supports the Confederacy.
A lawyer for the Sons of Confederate Veterans said Daras and his lawyer brought up no new arguments in the appeal and the Zoning Board’s decision should be upheld.
“Even if the city were to regulate the location of flag poles and the display of flags, those would be based on content and regulation is supposed to be content neutral,” said attorney Lauren Martel, who represents the Confederate heritage group.
Judge Maite Murphy said she will make a decision at a later date.
Information from: The Times & Democrat, http://www.timesanddemocrat.com