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Three dozen residents attend public hearing on therapist’s plan for Birch St. home

— It’s a gorgeous three-level, 14-room home at the base of Birch Street facing Onondaga Lake Park. Since it was constructed by Liverpool businessman Val Lamont two decades ago, the house has remained vacant.

Lamont initially planned to move his family into the mini-mansion at 101½ Birch St., but when his late wife, Victoria, decided against it, he put it on the market for more than $500,000. Known by many as “the Christmas Tree house” because a holiday fir stands year-round in one of the home’s many expansive windows, the property attracted interest but no serious offers.

Now a potential buyer, Janet Marie Urban of Nedrow, says she’ll purchase the house if she can secure a special permit from the village to allow her to operate a home-based business there. A tobacco treatment specialist, Urban’s permit application is presently under review by the Village Planning Board.

If permission is not granted, she said, she’ll withdraw her purchase offer.

The board’s Aug. 25 public hearing drew more than three dozen village residents most of whom oppose Urban’s plan to establish a business there named Wellness at The Lake.

“She says she may allow 24-hour stays for some of her clients,” said Matt Bobenhausen of 105 Birch St. “If that’s the case she’ll be operating an in-patient rehab center there.” Bobenhausen worries that such usage could change the character of the neighborhood and possibly lower property values.

Jack Fisher of 102 Hickory St. said, “I have nothing against the young lady is trying to do — helping people who need help is good — but this is just not the right thing to do in a residential area.”

Former chairman of the Onondaga County Legislature Bill Sanford, of 105 Iroquois Lane, pointed out that Onondaga Lake Park is essentially 101½ Birch St.’s front yard.

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