(CN) – An irate North Carolina homeowner insists he has the constitutional right to post a sign on his house, “Screwed by the Town of Cary,” after the town’s botched road-widening sent runoff onto his property, damaging his house. William Bowden says the town is threatening to fine him “hundreds of dollars a day” if he does not take down the sign, which he hired a professional sign painter to paint in fluorescent orange letters on the front of his house.
In his complaint in Raleigh, N.C., Federal Court, Bowden says the dispute has dragged on for years. He says the town widened and raised Maynard Road by several feet where it passes his house. He had to move his driveway, several feet of his front yard “disappear(ed),” several trees were removed, and the resulting runoff damaged his house, Bowden says.
The letters in his “Screwed” sign are 14 inches to 21 inches tall, he says. The day it was painted, he was served with notice of a zoning violation, which Bowden says was considerably faster service than he received for his complaints of damages from the water runoff.
He says his statement that he was screwed by the town Cary is part of his “core political speech that is directed at the Town itself,” and the town has no right to make him, symbolically, shut up.
The Cary sign ordinance threatens him with a $100 fine for day one, $250 for day two, a $500 a day thereafter.
Bowden says the town ignored his complaints until he put the sign up, and he told the assistant city manager, “‘I have finally gotten the Town’s attention with my sign. If I take it down, the attention will go away.’ … Mr. Bowden explained that he had no intention of taking down the sign as long as the underlying dispute remained unresolved.”
He seeks declaratory judgment, an injunction and damages. He is represented by Mark Sigmon.