Local News

Cary’s sign ordinance at center of new debate

Posted September 30, 2010 8:16 p.m. EDT
Updated October 1, 2010 2:35 p.m. EDT

— Not even two years old, the Cathedral Community Christian Center Church is still making a name for itself.

Pastor James Williams says one way to do that is with a sign out front.

“It’s just a part of the ministry,” he said.

A few weeks ago, he replaced the old sign with a similar one. The only exception is his photo is on the new sign.

That photo is why the Town of Cary is wanting Williams to take down the sign or move it some place else.

“Once I put my black face on the side of this (sign), the Town, it became a problem,” Williams said.

Town officials say race has nothing to do with their request for Williams to take down the sign.

“We need to ensure that everyone throughout the town follows our standards,” Cary’s associate planning director, Ricky Barker, said. “Our standards, of course, are related to the aesthetics of our community.

Barker says Williams is violating a town ordinance that restricts the number of colors there can be on a sign to four. By adding his picture, Williams put his sign over the color limit.

“We want to spend as much time as we can to educate those business owners and organizations of what they can do,” Barker said.

Barker says the sign is OK as long as it is not permanently displayed out front.

In this case, Williams keeps it on a trailer that he plans to keep at the church and keep visible.

“I plan to fight this,” Williams said.

Williams says he plans to contact the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP.

Town officials says Williams did not get a permit for the sign. If it's not down by Friday, town leaders told Williams he is subject to fines.

This isn’t the first dispute the town has had with a Cary resident over a sign.

Last year, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the town, challenging its assessment of fines against resident David Bowden, who spay-painted a protest on the front of his home.

The town issued a notice against Bowden notifying him that the message violates size and color limits set by the town’s ordinance.

In June, a Cary resident advertised his love for the town with his own sign. Officials also found him to be in violation of the ordinance.