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Massage sign causes controversy at board

Posted by Loren Fisher on Oct 10, 2011

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Sunrise Massage Therapy at 75 W. Main St. Photo by Loren Fisher.

A proposed permanent sign at Sunrise Massage Therapy caused a heated meeting before the proposal was tabled by the Architectural Review Board Monday night.

At odds are whether the sign should be able to have the word “massage” on it.

This is the third time the board has reviewed plans for the sign. A sign was approved last month with different words, saying Sunrise Therapeutic Spa. The owners say that sign doesn’t let potential customers know what the business offers and want to have the word “massage” in the sign. The plan submitted this month looks the same but changes the words to say “Sunrise Massage Therapy,” matching a temporary sign currently hanging at the business.

The business has been open since July at 75 W. Main St.

“What’s really at issue is what we’ve got on the sign,” said board member Tom Genova. “This is an advisory board and basically this board puts a lot of time in to what ends up on Main St. We make a lot of comments with regard to something being too much, we make comments on what we like to see the town evolve into, which is more of an upscale image and and I’m going to hold my ground on this one.”

“Let’s get down to the nitty gritty here, do you guys not want the word massage on the sign?” asked Rick Mulligan, whose wife Julia owns the business.

“Absolutely.” said Genova and some other boards members agreed.

Julia Mulligan pointed out to the board that her business is not a spa, she only does massage therapy and it doesn’t make sense for her sign to say “therapeutic spa.”

Rick Mulligan said that during last month’s meeting the board saying the wording wasn’t the problem, it was the aesthetics. The board disputed the claim and decided to table the application for the sign so they could review tape from the last meeting to clarify the issue.

After the meeting Genova said he doesn’t understand what the issue is since the business’s attorney proposed and agreed to a sign last month. When it was pointed out that the business wants the word “massage” on the sign, Genova said “No comment, no comment” and left the building.

“Wording is part of the aesthetics of a sign,” said board chairman Phil Decker. “We’re not making any decision about the business, she has a right to do what she wants to do.”

Decker said signs need to fit in with the board’s design guidelines and they “need to be compatible, be sympathetic to the street scape, fitting in with the look and feel of the town, the historic character, and so on. Whatever they are, whether it is a railroad shop or a shoe store, it doesn’t matter. We want it to look right and not be objectionable in terms of its look.”

At her business, Mulligan says she realizes that some massage businesses are shady. “I don’t have anything to hide,” she said. “If I was going to do something illegal, I wouldn’t do it on Main St. I’d hide someplace.” She says she doesn’t have a door on her massage room, only a curtain, so nothing inappropriate can happen.


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