The public response to a Confederate flag raised last year alongside Route 70 saw residents urge Orange County Commissioners to amend county ordinance regarding flags.

The changes were made, including new restrictions on the size of flags allowed based on the zoning of the property where the flag stands.

Officials then gave residents one year to come into compliance. That was May 15, 2018. Now, the county has issued a statement outlining how the new ordinance will be enforced.

“We knew it was coming,” county commission chair Penny Rich told WCHL’s Aaron Keck last Wednesday: one year to the day since the new ordinance was passed. “We knew that at this point we were going to have to go into some sort of discussions with our attorney and make sure that we don’t wind up in any kind of ridiculous lawsuit.”

Rich said there are concerns over safety in this situation. A large flagpole near the side of a busy roadway is hazardous if the pole should fall over. Also, she said, the flag could be a distraction for drivers.

“When you have something that gigantic and people are driving and looking up at the same time, that’s not a good thing.”

Officials said the new ordinance must be fairly enforced against all flags not in compliance. A review by zoning enforcement officials earlier this year found as many as 20 flags out compliance within the county’s jurisdiction.

Those properties will be revisited now that the grace period has ended, county officials said. Property owners will be given a chance to remedy or appeal the violation before an injunction is sought.