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Homeowner's fight with Cary not over

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 last August.

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CARY, N.C. — A homeowner who won a freedom of speech court case against the Town of Cary says his fight to recover damages is far from over.

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that David Bowden had the right to spray-paint the phrase “S-----d by the Town of Cary” on his home as a protest of what he calls the town's refusal to compensate him for property damage caused by a road-widening project.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued on his behalf after the town threatened to fine Bowden in August 2009.

"It feels good that I won, but what have I won?" Bowden said. "If you won a pile of horse manure, you still ain't got nothing. So all I have now is the right to keep my sign."

Bowden said he is frustrated by years of unsuccessful negotiation with Cary after construction on Maynard Road led to drainage pipes pointing toward his home.

That, and the steep slope and lack of trees in the yard, funnels water into his home – "right under my house, in the utility room, into the laundry room," he said. Mold usually follows.

Bowden said the unhealthy conditions led to a medical diagnosis of lung cancer.

The judge's ruling allows him to express himself freely, Bowden said, but talk is cheap, and he wants action from the town: specifically, buying his house.

"I'll take the tax value of the house, plus $80,000 (for the aggravation),” he said. "They have lied about everything."

A spokeswoman for the Town of Cary said Tuesday that officials are disappointed with the judge's ruling and will review it to determine their next steps.

Buying Bowden's house is not under consideration, the spokeswoman said.

In the past two years, Cary has bought three homes, two for capital improvement projects and a third to make room for a road project.

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Kevin Holmes, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
Anne Johnson, Web Editor

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