Local News

Judge: Cary violated homeowner's freedom of speech

Posted December 7, 2010

— A federal judge has ruled that the Town of Cary’s sign ordinance violates the freedom of speech of a resident who painted a protest on the front of his home in August 2009.

David Bowden spray-painted the phrase “S-----d by the Town of Cary” on his home after, he claims, a road-widening project left his yard devoid of trees and with a steep slope that funnels water into his home.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed a lawsuit against Cary, challenging its assessment of fines against Bowden and arguing provisions of the town’s sign ordinance are unconstitutional.

Senior U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan wrote in a ruling, issued Tuesday afternoon, that the town violated Bowden’s freedom of speech when it enforced the ordinance in a way that would have prevented him from expressing a message of political protest.

Last year, Cary town officials said they offered to fix the problems with Bowden’s house but that he refused the offer because the town wouldn’t buy the house.

Bowden said he painted the message on his house so that passers-by would know he had been wronged.

After months of unsuccessful negotiations, the town reiterated its intent to fine Bowden if he did not remove the sign. A year ago, officials suspended the fines pending a court ruling.

Bowden did not have a comment Tuesday evening.

Deanna Boone, a spokeswoman for Cary, called the ruling disappointing, saying it would be reviewed carefully to determine next steps.

“We feel strongly that the sign ordinance reflects the values of our community and gives all speakers ample opportunities to share their thoughts, whatever they may be," Boone said in a statement.

177 Comments

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  • IAMAmerican Dec 9, 9:06 a.m.

    I'd never live in Cary. Glad he won the case.
    fl2nc2ca2md2nc

    Good, glad you wouldn't live in Cary too and I am glad he won too.

  • oleguy Dec 8, 5:40 p.m.

    O we all are not Cary Haters,,, I wwish we had more towns like cary, just futher away

  • cscort Dec 8, 5:22 p.m.

    e2brtus needs to stick to the subject...if he knows what it is. It's not how long you have lived in Cary or why you moved away from Cary. It's not election time either so ....????
    The issue is the sign on the side of the guys house and is it fair for all the tax paying residents to have to put up with his sign.
    Or what is the solution ??? Besides buying him a new house.

  • cscort Dec 8, 5:12 p.m.

    I have to say there sure are a large number of Cary haters out there. Again like I said if you don't like it leave!!!!!!!! Why would anyone in their right mind go on ranting on how bad a city is....JUST MOVE!!!!! These have got to be the ones that always have to prove that there phone is so much better than the Iphone...why would anyone ever want to buy an Iphone....hahahaha.
    It's just a phone....get a LIFE !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • FuckYouWRAL Dec 8, 4:51 p.m.

    "OK Cary haters...get your facts straight. The Town of Cary DOES NOT regulate house colors. Or yard design. Or number of licensed cars, any more than Raleigh does." --Road-wearier

    --> Oh but they do. They also publicly stick their foot in their mouth as well (neon lights are "hon ky tonk") .. I don't think people so much hate Cary as they do the boneheads who come up with their snotty ordinances.

  • scarletindurham Dec 8, 4:50 p.m.

    CarolinianByChoice - WOW! That is a HUGE difference! Ok, before I was kind of in the middle -- but now I'm 100% on Mr. Bowden's side -- they should have bought his house. WOW. I don't care what anyone says about "previous" maitenence issues -- come on, just because you didn't rake your front yard, doesn't give the Town of Cary permission to destroy it without paying for it!

  • nighttrain2010 Dec 8, 4:48 p.m.

    >>The Town of Cary DOES NOT regulate house colors. Or yard design. Or number of licensed cars, any more than Raleigh does.

    But they regulate enough to make the town disgusting.

    http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/Planning_Department/Frequently_Requested_Information.htm

    I too knew Cary before it was C.A.R.Y. There may not be a regulation in the books for everything but I wouldn't put it past a current non-native resident to try and introduce them

  • pulstar40 Dec 8, 4:42 p.m.

    Not all of Cary's subdivisions have HOA's.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Dec 8, 4:28 p.m.

    Wow! Are you folks still at it. I'll leave and let you NON-Cary residents hash out what MY Cary should do.

  • CarolinianByChoice Dec 8, 4:24 p.m.

    If you check the Wake County Real Estate Data you can see what Mr. Bowden’s house looked like before Maynard was widened: http://services.wakegov.com/realestate/Photo.asp?id=0082927&stype=owner&owner=Bowden&spg=6&cd=01&loc=305+SW+MAYNARD+RD&des=LO4+BRIARCLIFF+SUB+SE6+BM1972%2D231&pin=0763257667

    That’s a BIG difference. I’d be pretty darned unhappy too if I were in Mr. Bowden’s shoes. Biggest laugh is if the town of Cary wouldn’t have done such a hatchet job on the front yard, they couldn’t have read anything that was on the front of his house for all the trees!!

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