Massage business rubs neighbors the wrong way

Several Birchwood Drive residents spoke out against plans for a home-based therapeutic massage business on their street, during a Wednesday, July 2, zoning board meeting.

Ruth Brown, an Air Force veteran, and her business partner Debbieanne Vigneri faced opposition to their plans to run a therapeutic massage business out of 125 Birchwood Drive in Guilderland because residents said the increase in traffic would be a disruption to the neighborhood.

They currently run their business out of space in Stuyvesant Plaza, but Brown said they need more space.

In order to run their business out of 125 Birchwood Drive they need to get a special permit from the zoning board, since Birchwood Drive is a residential neighborhood.

Residents of Birchwood Drive cited an increase in traffic as the key reason for opposing the business.

Rita Hesler has lived on the Birchwood Drive for 56 years and said her family strongly opposes the permit.

Let these people put their business in a commercial area. Not a residential area, said her husband, Tom.

She also read a fax from her son Mark Hesler, whom she said used to sit on several local town boards.

"There are other conforming alternate locations within the town," Mark Hesler wrote.

"This is a residential community. We have never, in my 50 years here, had a business," said longtime resident Charles Welge. "When [they] say we won't have any cars on the road, that's a lot of baloney," he said.

Others pointed out the residents don't oppose the business itself, but the affect it will have on the neighborhood.

"No one is questioning the honesty and integrity of this business. You're missing the point. This is a residential area, and you're allowing a business to come into the area," said Anna Tariello, who also lives on Birchwood Drive.

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