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ACLU weighes in on Cary man's dispute with town

The ACLU says enforcing a sign ordinance on a Cary man would violate his First Amendment right.

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CARY, N.C. — The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union doesn't want the Town of Cary to enforce a fine on a Cary man, saying it would violate his First Amendment right.

David Bowden spray-painted a message on the front of his 305 SW Maynard Road home last Friday after becoming frustrated with the town over a drainage issue that, he says, has caused water damage to his house.

He said he wants the town to buy his house or pay to have it elevated or moved further back from the road.

Assistant Town Manager Mike Bajorek said the town has offered to fix the problem but that Bowden has refused the offer. A buyout is not on the table, Bajorek said earlier this week.

The town has cited Bowden for the message, saying he is in violation of an ordinance that bans certain types of residential signs. That could mean fines starting out at $100 for the first day, $250 for the second and $500 for each day afterward.

In a letter Tuesday to the town's attorney, ACLU legal director Katherine Lewis Parker says several provisions of the ordinance are unconstitutional "on their face and as applied to Mr. Bowden."

A spokeswoman for the town said Wednesday that attorneys are still reviewing the letter but that there has been no change to the situation

Although Bowden faces fines, spokeswoman Susan Moran reminded the media Tuesday evening that the town has yet to issue any, even though a 72-hour grace period had expired.


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