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Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Man spells out anger at city on his house

Man spells out anger at Cary on house

Town, resident at odds over runoff

The News & Observer
Staff writer

Published: Tue, Aug. 04, 2009 05:03AM

Modified Tue, Aug. 04, 2009 07:47AM

CARY -- Somebody told David Bowden that he needed to put in writing his complaint that water runoff from a town road project is ruining his home.

So Bowden did. In fluorescent orange spray paint. In letters 2 feet tall. On the exterior siding of his two-story white clapboard house.

"I didn't know any other way to get their attention," Bowden said Monday, as traffic slowed so passers-by could make out the message: "Screwed by the town of Cary."

Bowden blames the town for water that pools under his house deep enough to lap at the ductwork. The problem started after Cary elevated Southwest Maynard Road in front of the home.

Town officials, meanwhile, said they have tried to work with Bowden to resolve the issue, to no avail.

The property at 305 Southwest Maynard had water-drainage problems when Bowden moved into it in 1992. The previous owner dealt with it by installing a sump pump. Bowden said he went a step further, paying to excavate around the foundation of the house, waterproof the structure and pour in stone to help with drainage.

That worked pretty well, he said, until the city resurfaced what was then two lanes with a turn lane. The new pavement sloped toward Bowden's home, he said, and when it rained hard, an inch of water would come down his driveway, across his carport and into his utility room.

The problem got exponentially worse, he said, when Cary widened Maynard Road. As part of the project, completed last August, the town built up the roadbed, raising it 6 feet where it passes Bowden's house. His front door is now below the grade of the road. The city had to relocate his driveway entrance because of the steep slope. The widening also took several feet of Bowden's front yard and the trees that stood there.

Mike Bajorek, assistant Cary town manager, said the town paid Bowden $5,300 for the loss of yard and trees. The city also built a retaining wall where the corner of Bowden's driveway meets the steepest shoulder of the road, and it installed drainage pipes. But Bowden said that the pipes open onto the driveway and that the water heads for the house.

"You don't have to be an engineer to know that water runs downhill," said Bowden, who has complained to his town council representative, town engineers and others.

Bajorek said the town has repeatedly offered to build a different drainage system to route the water around the house. But Bowden has refused to allow it.

On Friday, Bowden decided he wouldn't call town hall anymore. He called a sign painter, whom he paid $200 cash to erect a scaffold and emblazon his gripe with the town. It's between the second-floor windows, at street level.

At this point, he said, he doesn't want the town to stop the water. He wants Cary to buy his house, at its $170,000 tax value, plus $80,000 for his trouble. With the money, the retired convenience-store manager wants to buy a motor home and travel the country.

He has received a response from the town, but it wasn't a buyout offer. It was a notice that his message of protest violates the town's sign ordinance and he is subject to fines up to $500 a day.

"Turning your house into a billboard, regardless of the message, isn't consistent with community values," Bajorek said.



 David Bowden, 67, blames town of Cary road projects for sharply increasing rainwater runoff that floods his house. After he had this sign painted, the town notified him that it is illegal. - STAFF PHOTO BY SHAWN ROCCO

David Bowden, 67, blames town of Cary road projects for sharply increasing rainwater runoff that floods his house. After he had this sign painted, the town notified him that it is illegal. - STAFF PHOTO BY SHAWN ROCCO
 Before: Bowden
Before: Bowden's front yard had mature trees and was roughly level with Maynard Road. - COURTESY OF DAVID BOWDEN
 After: The town of Cary
After: The town of Cary's work on Maynard Road, including a new turn lane, removed all the trees in front and left a 6-foot slope from the road down to the yard. Bowden says runoff floods his laundry room, near the carport. He wants the town to buy his house. - STAFF PHOTO BY SHAWN ROCCO

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