GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (January 22, 2009) — The real estate law firm, Brown & Altman LLP helped to secure a change in the Town of North Hempstead’s zoning law, as well as necessary variances, on behalf of the owners of a franchised Massage Envy clinic in Port Washington, N.Y. The change to the zoning ordinance, which excludes licensed massage therapists from the town’s regulation of adult-uses, allows the owners to open the clinic like other duly licensed professionals.
Construction of the new clinic at 47 Main St., Port Washington, is now underway after the client’s almost year-long effort to obtain permits from the town. Brown & Altman were retained by the owners in early October 2008, and within just three months the town zoning ordinance was amended and variance relief was granted by the town’s Board of Zoning Appeals.
“Getting the law changed was a big piece of it,” said Chris Elders, one of the franchise’s principals. “I didn’t think anyone could get it done.”
The new local zoning law, approved in a 7-0 vote on Nov. 18, added “licensed massage therapist,” a category which did not exist in the town’s original adult-use ordinance, to the list of permitted exclusions under the definition of “massage establishment.”
“It’s an unusual case,” said David Altman, a partner in the Garden City-based Brown & Altman.
Altman brought the matter to the Town Board after the North Hempstead Building Department refused to issue an interior alterations permit to the franchise owners, Jaqueline Nguyen and Elders, allowing them to open their 3,200-square-foot clinic at 47 Main St. in Port Washington. “It took a bit of doing to get it through.”
The building department determined that a massage therapy clinic, employing licensed massage therapists, was a proscribed use under the town’s Adult Use Ordinance regulating massage establishments.
“This is really a permitted use in the zoning district and to treat it as an adult use was clearly erroneous,” Altman said.
Until the town amended its adult use ordinance, however, anyone duly licensed by the State to perform therapeutic massage could not operate legally in the town. “These people are licensed professionals,” Altman noted. “New York state’s licensing requirements for massage therapists are among the strictest in the country.”
Altman also had to secure a parking variance from the BZA for the new massage clinic. The variance, necessary because there is no off-street parking available on Main Street in Port Washington, was approved on Dec. 10. “The BZA took a hard look at the requested parking variance because the Massage Envy clinic is located in a zero lot-line building, without any on-site parking, and all patrons would be utilizing limited available parking”, said Altman.
The facility, when completed will have a reception area, office and 11 treatment booths.
Massage therapy is a multibillion industry, according to statistics from the American Massage Therapy Association. Massage Envy, with more 500 open and operating clinics in 38 states, currently employs more than 10,000 therapists across the country, who provide affordable therapeutic massage services. The company, founded in 2002, has an 300 additional locations under development across the United States.
About Brown & Altman, LLP
Brown & Altman, LLP offers a broad range of legal services to the real estate development industry. The firm concentrates on the complex field of commercial real estate law, including real estate transactions, leasing, financing, title, environmental, zoning, permitting and litigation. Brown & Altman is located at 585 Stewart Ave., Suite 790, Garden City, N.Y. 11530. The telephone number is (516) 222-0222 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org