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Federal judge will not revisit ruling involving Cary sign ordinance

Posted April 12, 2011

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— A federal judge on Tuesday denied the town of Cary's request that she reconsider her ruling involving a nearly two-year dispute with a local homeowner.

U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan ruled in December that the town violated David Bowden’s freedom of speech when it fined him for spray-painting the phrase “Screwed by the Town of Cary” on the front of his home at 305 Maynard Road.

In February, she ordered the town to pay $46,197.27 in fees.

Town officials said Bowden violated an ordinance that specifies how and where signs can be displayed in the community.

But Flanagan ruled that the town’s rules were content-based because they don’t regulate holiday decorations or other things not commonly considered to be signs.

Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said in February that the ruling appeared to require the town to regulate holiday decorations by setting size, height and other limitations.

The case could be appealed to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.


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  • macaluso624 Apr 18, 2011

    It is amazing to me how quickly people will write comments on this case and the wasteful spending of Cary. First, Cary has a comparable tax rate to the communities around Raleigh, that is why the town is well maintained and is in high demand.

    Secondly, the town offered Mr. Bowden to work with them to fix the house. He let his house fall into disrepair and wanted to take advantage of the town to buy a home that few people would want to purchase because of its location on a busy road.

    I am a resident of Cary and I please with the actions they are taking to fight Mr. Bowden's case. The town has alwasy been fiscally responsible and I know they are doing what they feel is best for the town as a whole and not just the interests on one person. Case and point, take a drive down High House road and take a look at the house across the street from St. Michael's Catholic church. There are plenty of ways ot make political statements within the rules of the town.

  • Tax Man Apr 13, 2011

    I would imagine they could get a fair appraisal of the house BEFORE Cary started expanding Maynard - then add interest from that date forward and all the attorneys fees/costs and pay off this man - then they can make this a city office.

  • Tax Man Apr 13, 2011

    Cary just needs to pay this man and move on - dump their dumb sign laws and pay the man! The city/town is wrong and they know it.

  • IzzMad2016 Apr 13, 2011

    "They could have just let it go."

    You do know, don't you, that Cary offered multiple times to reroute the drainage and he refused because fixing any alleged water issues (which the property had when he bought it) wasn't his goal...he tried to embarrass TOC into buying the house that he neglected & let fall into disrepair. Rather than spend a few bucks for a power wash he'd rather pay someone to paint offensive signs on the front of his house. Lame.

  • smcallah Apr 13, 2011

    "You do know, don't you, that he brought the lawsuit and Cary spent dollars in defense of the suit he filed? Check your facts before you go posting nonsense all willy-nilly."

    You do know, don't you, that Cary didn't have to send lawyers to court to fight this just because a case was filed?

    They could have just let it go.

  • BubbaDukeforPresident Apr 13, 2011

    Be nice for a change - go back to the original story. This isn't new. "Bowden told the town that the drainage issue was a problem for years before the widening project when the state Department of Transportation put an overlay on Maynard Road, Bajorek said."

    You only need to look at the picture of how the sidewalk channels water directly into Bowden's yard to know he's telling the truth. If the city really wanted to fix this, they could have installed a curb on their right of way years ago. They don't need Bowden's approval to repair a public sidewalk. The truth is that they'd spent the money elsewhere until Bowden called attention to them by painting his house. Great sign - honest sentiment.

  • Blues Man Z Apr 13, 2011

    "If you'll had done the proper thing way back when, this would never have become an issue."

    Huh? English...Please !!!

  • Hater like Darth Vader Apr 13, 2011

    It's actually not a sign. Wasn't that the ruling anyway? Their ordinance is about signs, not how your home is decorated. Either way, they should fire their attorney and hire more police and increase patrols since they have a random strangler on the street choking joggers to death.

  • jervin6 Apr 13, 2011

    Interesting point about the house having water issues even before the widening of the road in front of his house. If his house was already set down in that hole I could see that bing the case. I wonder if there is a record of his house being on the market long before the road work and what if any inspector may have said about any water problems. If that is the case, he is angry because the town probably didn't offer enough money on the buy out offer and now he is really stuck in a hole. I still like his sign, but I also live far away from it.

  • Serious man 4 Apr 13, 2011

    Most of the transplants in Cary have more money than sense. All the town council members are from another state, except the mayor.....