We’ve always offered the comforts of home

April 26, 2024  |  by Sheryl Rapée-Adams  |  Comments are off  | 

Join us in the wayback machine, AKA massage therapists have stressful moments too.

Massage Vermont has always been a home-based business. Our first location, in 1997, was in the Rutland City apartment Chris and I rented, with one or both small guestrooms serving as treatment rooms.

In July 2000, Chris and I bought a home in Rutland. Vermont law protects home businesses. We knew it was in bounds to bring our home-based massage practice to our new home and didn’t need a permit.

Still, I’m one of those people who crosses every T and dots every I. I asked our attorney to file a zoning permit for our business to make it official. Chris and I even wrote a nice letter introducing ourselves to our new neighbors on our dead-end street and . . . dropped one in each mailbox on the block.

Yeah, we didn’t know about that law.

The U.S. Postal Service would like to warn people that only authorized U.S. Postal Service delivery personnel are allowed to place items in a mailbox. By law, a mailbox is intended only for receipt of postage-paid U.S. Mail.

I mean, no one goes to prison for putting things other than stamped letters in someone’s mailbox. Usually nothing at all happens. Even the powers that be acknowledge this.

The U.S. Postal Service recognizes customers may place non-mail items into mailboxes as a convenient way of  “dropping something off,” but those items may cause a smaller mailbox to become full.  When a mailbox is full, Postal Service regulations say the letter carrier cannot place mail in the box.

This should have been no problem for us. Except that nearly across the street from us was a household of what we would come to realize were unneighborly, angry people—a couple and their tween sons—and the mother happened to be a postmaster in another town. She didn’t like the thought of a massage business on “her” street, reported us to USPS, challenged our zoning permit (and our morals, ha!), and worked up other neighbors into a lather about us.

Those complaints to the city triggered a zoning board hearing.

Our attorney happened to be the chair of the city zoning board, so she recused herself. A couple of households showed up to protest our permit. Thankfully for our morale, other neighbors showed up in support. It was moot though. Our permit fit completely within state law and city ordinances for a home-based business. The hearing was merely a necessary but stressful (for us) procedure that confirmed this.

Priceless moment: The neighbor next door to the one who started the protest kicked off the public comment part of the hearing by saying, “I don’t know what made these young people think they could buy a house and just open a business there.” The acting zoning board chair said, “Because the state and city say they can.” The neighbor exclaimed, “Then what are we even doing here?” Several of us said, in unison, “Exactly!”

No one said “Boo” after that night. We lived and practiced happily there for thirteen years.