Cary continues case against homeowner's sign
Posted May 5, 2011
CARY, N.C. — The town of Cary is taking its case against a homeowner's sign to a higher court.
Town officials said Thursday they have asked the 4th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., to hear their appeal about a sign that David Bowden painted on his house.
Bowden says he wrote the sign that read "Screwed by the town of Cary" because he blames a road project for damaging his home.
U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan has ruled that the First Amendment protects the sign.
Town officials say the sign on a 48-square-foot section of the front of Bowden's house violates community standards. Officials say Bowden could have had the words painted on as many as three smaller signs.
“There’s no question in my mind that Cary’s sign rules protect Mr. Bowden’s right to speak his mind,” Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said in a statement. “Like so many communities in North Carolina and throughout the country, our rules offer a variety of effective and appropriate alternatives for all citizens to exercise their right to free speech. The issue, simply put, is that his sign is too large."
Weinbrecht said the case has national significance because most municipalities try to regulate signs.
"Our citizens value free speech just as they value an attractive, safe community, and they count on their government to preserve and protect both," he said.