House with profane signs in Bow for sale for $899,000

  • A white van displayed a flag that read “F**k Biden and F**k Harris and F**k you too” at a Bow property. Geoff Forester / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 10/21/2021 2:05:06 PM

A house on Clinton Street in Bow where profane political banners were hung as it was being constructed this summer is now for sale for $899,000.

While it was being built, several town residents and commuters complained about the vulgar language on display.

“I realize everyone has a right to their opinion,” one Bow resident wrote to police. “Now there is a banner that reads F… Biden. I find it degrading to the neighborhood, do we want children to grow up with that?” one resident of Bow wrote. “Yes, I am probably being overprotective, perhaps they have the right, but it seems to me this sadly effects many.” 

Towns across New Hampshire have sparred with property owners regarding seemingly obscene signage, with incidents in Belmont and Bow displaying “F--- Biden” flags, observable from public roadways. Towns have struggled to balance freedom of speech with the concerns of their residents.

After filing a Right to Know Request with the Town of Bow, the Monitor received complaints reported to the Town of Bow between May 17, 2021 and September 20, 2021 regarding the recently purchased house at 502 Clinton St. The vast majority of residents of Bow and surrounding communities were steadfast in their concern regarding the obscenity of the signage.

A resident of Dunbarton, whose name was blacked out of public records, called the signs “childish actions” are “offensive.”

“I don’t care who they voted for as president,” the person wrote. “The people in our town are a bit more respectful of others even if opinions and views differ.” 

Another resident of Bow requested the town contact the owner to remove the signage because of its profanity.

“I hate seeing profanity on my way to and from home each day,” wrote the resident of Bow. “I don’t want to make it political – I just don’t think it is appropriate to have a sign with profanity displayed.” 

Towns in the United States are forbidden from regulating signage based on its content, based on a 2015 precedent established by Reed v. Gilbert, where municipalities can only impose regulations that are of “general applicability.” This means that towns can only regulate the time in which the sign is displayed, the manner in which its displayed and the location in which its displayed. 

Flags are defined as signage under Bow’s current ordinance. However, the current ordinance only regulates commercial signage, and has not been updated to include residential signage According the Matthew Taylor, Community Development Director of the Town of Bow, the town plans to address residential signage next year.

With commercial signage, the only speech regulated are signs which could be mistaken for the words stop, yield, caution and danger. Other than that, the town is unable to regulate the exact content of the sign unless it falls out of the narrow scope of the ordinance, such as size, location or manner in which it is displayed. 

“We are looking at a rewrite of the sign ordinance for next year to address the issue,” wrote Taylor. 

Another resident of Dunbarton resident argued that the profane sign constitutes hate speech.

“Clearly, this is the kind of behavior that has contributed to the climate of incivility that has disturbed many Americans,” wrote the Dunbarton resident. “I believe it is not an example of freedom of speech but hate speech and I hope, illegal.”

The real estate listing for the home reveals the 3,300 square foot home sits on five acres, has a three car garage and high end finishings.

Town records show the new house, with four bedrooms and three and a half baths, was built by Paris Properties, owned by John Fillion of Hudson, and NCK Properties, owned by Zachary Whitten of Londonderry.

“Hurry, your piece of paradise is waiting,” the listing reads.

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