Local News

Cary to delay fines while case winds through courts

Posted November 23, 2009
Updated January 5, 2010

— The Town of Cary agreed Monday to suspend fines against a man who painted a large message on his Maynard Road home until the courts decide whether he has the right to do so.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation took up the case of William David Bowden after the town threatened fines, saying the message on his home violates size and color limits set by the town’s sign ordinance.

Bowden hired someone to paint the sign on his home after he claimed a road-widening project left his once-arboreal yard, at 305 SW Maynard Road, void of trees and with a steep slope that funnels rain water into his home.

Town staff first visited Bowden in July to ask him to change the sign.

After months of negotiations that got nowhere, the town reiterated its intent to fine Bowden if he did not remove the sign. Fines, which start at $100 per day, were to start last Friday.

The ACLU filed suit Thursday in federal court , alleging the town’s sign ordinance violates Bowden’s right to free speech and to petition his government.

The suit asks the court to declare the town’s sign ordinance unconstitutional and to issue a temporary restraining order and an injunction against the town.

In a conference call Monday, Cary agreed to suspend any fines pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

“In order to save itself from embarrassment, the town is attempting to silence Mr. Bowden from engaging in core political speech directed at the very governmental authorities who are seeking to suppress that speech,” ACLU-NCLF Cooperating Attorney Mark Sigmon said in a release. “Enforcement of the Town’s sign ordinance under these circumstances is a clear violation of the First Amendment.”

“Given that we’ve been in contact with the ACLU off and on for the last several months, we’re disappointed in the choice they’ve made today but look forward to a court’s review of our community’s standards," Susan Moran, spokeswoman for the Town of Cary, said after the suit was filed.

Assistant Town Manager Mike Bajorek said the town has attempted to negotiate with Bowden but has been unable to reach a satisfactory solution.

"We have gone to him and said, 'We have a design that would help resolve (the drainage issue),'" Bajorek said last week. "He said, 'No. Stay off my property. I want you to buy my house.'"

Bowden said he will never give up, even if it means losing his home.

“If I have to...I will let the mortgage company foreclose on it,” Bowden said.

33 Comments

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  • OSX Nov 23, 7:23 p.m.

    I think the best thing Cary can do is just wait him out. They offered help and he refused because he just wants a big payday. What's sad, is they would still help if they were asked.

  • delilahk2000 Nov 23, 7:04 p.m.

    WELL CARY1969, I HAD RATHER LIVE IN A TOBACCO FIELD OUT IN NOWHERE, THAN LIVE IN OVERSIZE HOUSES THAT LOOK MORE LIKE MUSEUMS THAN AN ACTUAL HOME. AT LEAST OUT THERE YOU CAN SEE BEAUTY, AND HEAR BIRDS, INSTEAD OF NOISY STREETS AND NEIGHBORHOODS. US THAT LIVE HERE ARE VERY HAPPY, AND WE DO NOT WISH TO LIVE IN HOUSES LIKE YOURS. YOUR STATEMENT MAKES YOU SOUND LIKE A SNOB.

  • wwwalker Nov 23, 7:00 p.m.

    Cary, fix the guy's house, or buy it from him.

    Guy, paint over the "sign." (Only when aforementioned fixing or purchasing of the house has occurred.)

    All, move on.

  • ifcdirector Nov 23, 6:56 p.m.

    They built this road up to his front door and turned his front yard into a treeless lake when it rains. They should do the right thing and stop being cheap and give him the market value of his home.

  • Tin Nutt Nov 23, 6:50 p.m.

    I think the flooding is not the real problem with this home. This guys property was essentially destroyed by the road widening - I think the town should pay a fair price for it and buy him out. Regarding the ihatecary crowd, there are many towns in Wake County that I would not want to live in, but I don't sit around on GOLO insulting the people that do choose to live there. Get a life!

  • cary1969 Nov 23, 6:27 p.m.

    if you don't like cary, please don't travel in our town. traffic is bad enough without outsiders causing confusion while they look at the houses they wished they lived in and not in an empty tobacco field out in God knows where.

  • tran Nov 23, 6:19 p.m.

    Yes, he had minor drainage issues before the road was widened. After the widening, he was flooded. Widening the road diverted stormwater runoff right to his foundation, ruining it.

    The town should buy his house for the tax valuation or the price of similar, recent homes sold nearby, whichever is greater.

  • 3forme Nov 23, 6:19 p.m.

    timbo..i bet if it were your house you wouldn't be singing the same tune..

  • 3forme Nov 23, 6:17 p.m.

    as i said in a previous post the town of cary engineers knew what they were creating when they planned this widening..resolving it by more haphazard engineering isn't the solution...buy the house cary and prove to us all that you are not to big to admit a mistake..

  • Timbo Nov 23, 6:14 p.m.

    This guy wants a free lunch at the expense of the taxpayers. He's not even trying to negotiate with the town.

    So, I say SCREW him and let him sit there and stew while his house rots.

    Cary should show him they can be intransigent too. Let him cut off his nose to spite his own face. I hope they stick it to him.

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