Motel With Vulgar Signage Sold

Editor's Note: Photo was digitally altered. The Pine Wood Motel in Bethlehem, the site of two months of complaints by residents about profanity-laden political signs, has been sold to a new owner. (File photo by Robert Blechl)

The motel in Bethlehem that has been the source of two months of complaints by residents about profanity-laden political signs has been sold.

The New Hampshire Registry Review this week posted the sale of the Pine Wood Motel, at 1214 Main St./Route 302, to a limited liability corporation called 1214 Main Street Bethlehem LLC, which was created on July 12 by Kenneth R. Johnson Jr, of Andover.

The sale of the property that is assessed at $228,900 was made on August 9.

The asking price was $235,000.

According to records at the Grafton County Registry of Deeds, that was also the sale price.

According to the county deeds registry, the property had been owned since 1990 by Randall and Susan Nearing, of Whitefield.

In July, Randall Nearing expressed frustration to The Caledonian-Record that selectmen were not enforcing the town’s sign ordinance to remove the signs put up by the tenant that use foul language in opposition to Pres. Joe Biden.

Selectmen said the ordinance deals with sign size and placement and said they consulted with town legal counsel, who concluded that the signs in question constitute protected speech.

They also cited legal precedent and said any action taken by the town could result in a First Amendment lawsuit that would cost it money and that it would likely lose.

Before the sale, Nearing said he had been considering initiating an eviction process against the tenant for violating his lease agreement regarding signage while noting that eviction would take time and cost him thousands of dollars.

As for when the signs might come down, it remains anyone’s guess.

A voice mail and email placed to Johnson on Tuesday afternoon inquiring about why he bought the property, what his plans are for it, if the plan is to continue it as apartments or put the property to another use, and if or how he intends to address the signs and if he has a legal remedy to do so were not returned by press time.

The property sits in a developing area of town, between another lot of cabins/apartments and a Dollar General on the east side and Presidential Mountain Resort on the west side, a location with a growing number of tourist cabins that replaced the former Baker Brook motel and cabins.

Johnson is also the registered agent of the Andover-based Granite Hill Properties LLC, incorporated in October 2019 as a real estate and rental and leasing company for residential and non-residential buildings and property management.

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