By Chris Maza
EAST LONGMEADOW – On Feb. 11, the Planning Board approved the special permit for a new massage therapy facility to be located at 611 N. Main St.
The board, with conditions, approved Fengling Liu’s application for a special permit for Feng Health Center of Massage Service unanimously.
Among those conditions were requirements that Liu would be the only person performing massage therapy at the site and that any state licenses must be forwarded to the Planning Board upon receipt or renewal.
Liu has a valid license to practice massage therapy through the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure, but does not yet have the business license required by state law to open the facility.
“They have filed an application for the salon license,” Planning Director Robyn Macdonald said, explaining that state law requires that the town approve the special permit prior to state issuance of a business license.
In her application, Liu included a copy of her massage therapist license, which was first issued in 2008 and expires in May and lists a home address of 84 Hillside Ave., and a New York driver’s license with an address in New Hyde Park, a community located outside of Manhattan, N.Y.
Page asked about the discrepancy and Liu’s daughter, Ting Ting Lin, acting as an interpreter, told the board that they rent an apartment at the Hillside Avenue address.
“We come from New York, but we live here for now,” Lin said.
Planning Board member George Kingston and Macdonald both expressed concern with the response, pointing out that apartments are not allowed in the residential district according to the zoning bylaw.
“We need to understand why there is an apartment on Hillside [Avenue],” Kingston said.
Looking for clarification, board member Alessandro Meccia asked if they rent the whole house; Lin said they rent one floor, to which Macdonald responded that the address was a ranch-style house.
It was determined by the board that the rental issue was not relevant to the board’s decision on issuing the special permit.
The space in question on 611 N. Main St., owned by Board of Public Works Chair Daniel Burack, was the former home of Korean Massage, which was subject to three separate police raids since 2009 that uncovered illegal immigration and prostitution activities. Those alleged events prompted the town to approve a bylaw change requiring all massage therapy businesses obtain a special permit to operate.
The board voted not to approve Korean Massage’s application for a special permit on March 26.
Liu had originally received a special permit to operate a massage business at 34 Shaker Road on Feb. 12, 2013. However, she did not have a lease and the property’s owner, Steve Graziano and East Meadow Realty, opted to rent the space to Hassan Ransha of East Meadow Produce, according to the minutes of the May 21, 2013 meeting.
The board also voted unanimously to approve the site plan for a storage facility located at 91 Industrial Drive.
Engineer Gary Weiner explained that the facility of 50,000 square feet of storage would sit on a nearly four-acre plot of land on the north side of Industrial Drive.
The land on which the facility will be built is currently vacant and was recently cleared of small trees and vegetation.
As part of the project, the company would work on re-grading the land to level the surface on which the company hopes to place eight storage unit buildings.
Business owners explained that buildings would be constructed gradually and until all eight buildings are built, there would be an open area for vehicle storage, which would be near the front of the property. When it was suggested that the vehicle storage could be moved to the back for esthetic purposes, management of the facility said it would be better for security and police if vehicle storage were in the front.
Among the major concerns by abutters was lighting and how much would affect those in the neighboring housing development. Weiner said because of the shields used on the lighting, landscaping on the property and a berm topped with evergreens being constructed by owners of the residential development, there would be nearly no light pollution.
Due to the fact that the property is the long and narrow, snow removal was also a concern and it was noted that snow would have to be trucked out of the facility and could not be dumped into swales proposed in the site plan.