Zoning: Town Sign Ordinance Limiting Size And Paint Color Was Constitutional

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 12:00 am
Land Use Law Report, Volume 41, Number 2

A North Carolina town's objection to a resident's "wall sign" was based on a "content neutral" sign ordinance--and not on the disparaging message it displayed.

Facts: In 2009, William Bowden painted the words "Screwed by the Town of Cary" on the front of his house using fluorescent orange paint. Bowden painted the message in response to the Town of Cary's unsatisfactory attempts to address water damage to Bowden's home, which Bowden alleged was caused by a municipal road-paving project. A passing motorist reported the message to police, and the town issued a zoning violation notice to Bowden.

The town alleged that Bowden's sign violated the town's sign limitations, namely that "wall signs" were limited to two square feet and acceptable sign colors specifically excluded "high intensity color or fluorescent pigments." Bowden's fluorescent orange message was fifteen feet long and fourteen to twenty-one inches high.

After Bowden refused to remove his sign, the Town issued a se[..]


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