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Brentwood board rejects request to open massage center

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 9:06 p.m.

A Brentwood resident would have to appeal to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas if he wants to open a massage-therapy center in a property already designed to house a massage-therapy facility in the 2800 block of Brownsville Road.

Members of the Brentwood zoning hearing board, in a 4-0 vote last week, denied a request from Aaron Cygnarowicz, 29, who was seeking a variance from borough code to operate a massage center, Elite Massage, in a commercial rental property at 2821 Brownsville Road.

Zoning board chair Phillip Hoebler was absent.

Cygnarowicz graduated from the Community College of Allegheny County with a certificate in massage therapy in 2010 and has a state certification for massage therapy.

He has 30 days to appeal the June 25 decision. After the vote, he said he had not decided what to do next.

Cygnarowicz, who has lived in Brentwood since March, said he selected the rental property on Brownsville Road for a future business because it already was set up for a massage-therapy center.

“Even the lights, they dim like a massage-therapy establishment should have, so I wouldn't have to put much more money into it,” Cygnarowicz said. “All the rooms are perfect for a massage-therapy place, and it gives me room to grow.”

A massage business once was operated from the building, which in 2009 was raided by Brentwood police, and simultaneously closed.

The property then was rented to the owners of the Brentwood Station, a hobby shop that left the location in August 2012, said John Donovan, property manager and one of the owners of D&D Properties, which owns the building.

“I'd like to have my space filled,” Donovan said.

Brentwood Council approved new zoning codes for the municipality in December 2013, which now prohibits massage establishments from operating in mixed-use zoning districts, code enforcement officer Ralph Costa said.

A mixed-use zoning district allows numerous developments, such as single-family homes, duplexes, convenience stores, banks and laundromats. Brentwood code allows for massage establishments in the commercial redevelopment district along Route 51, only by conditional use.

“For us to approve it, you would have to prove that there's some kind of hardship why it has to be in that building,” zoning hearing board member Jayson Livingston said.

Cygnarowicz said he was unable to find another property that was this affordable in the Brentwood community. The 1,000-square foot property rents for $595 a month.

He operated a massage-therapy center in Moon for a year and a half, but increasing rent prices caused him to close that business.

“There is no massage therapy in Brentwood. It would be a wise business decision for anyone to open a massage-therapy business in Brentwood,” Cygnarowicz said.

Gail Snyder, owner of Hair Designs by Gail on Brownsville Road, voiced worries about another massage business opening in her neighborhood.

“I want it to be legitimate,” Snyder said.

Cygnarowicz said one of his goals is to squash the negative stigma that sometimes comes with the term “massage parlor” and help people realize there are health clinics that also do massages. “I'm not going to be operating a questionable business,” Cygnarowicz said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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