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Residents oppose W.Va. massage parlor

February 19, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Opponents of a recently opened Winchester Avenue massage parlor will present a petition containing the signatures of 30 people at tonight's Martinsburg City Council meeting.

But city officials said it appears there is little they can do about the issue.

Local residents who do not agree with the city's decision to grant Colleen Mooney-Aunkst a special exception for her business at 667 Winchester Ave. probably would have to appeal the decision to Berkeley County Circuit Court, said City Manager Mark Baldwin.

City Council members will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. to discuss the issue.

Winchester Avenue resident Marjorie Moulton said she will present the petition containing about 30 signatures to the City Council tonight.

Moulton and Winchester Avenue resident Everett Fogle said they oppose the massage business for several reasons, including the way the approval process was conducted.

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The city's Board of Zoning Appeals gave Mooney-Aunkst a special exception to operate her business in what is a residential area, officials said.

Fogle, who lives next door to the business, said a zoning appeal sign explaining what the new business would be was supposed to be staked outside the home within 10 feet of the sidewalk. The sign was instead posted about 30 feet away on the porch of the business, Fogle said.

Fogle said no one opposed the therapy business "because no one knew about it. It was like a bolt of lightning."

Moulton said she is concerned about children in the neighborhood being exposed to such a business. Mooney-Aunkst's house is located down the street from Winchester Elementary School.

"The kids walk past there all the time. I'm not going to put up with it if I can do anything to stop it," said Moulton.

Mooney-Aunkst said she operates a professional massage therapy business that specializes in relieving stress and chronic fatigue.

She said there is nothing about her business that would offend the community or young children.

"I'm not hanging a red light out my door," said Mooney-Aunkst.

Mooney-Aunkst said she has been in the massage therapy business for about 11 years in Berkeley County. Mooney-Aunkst said that in addition to working out of her home, she works out of the office of Martinsburg chiropractor Kerry Bertchinger.

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