Atkinson Zoning Board denies application for ‘Diaper Spa’

Board members denied the permit due to inconsistencies in the application and the negative impact on the community. 

After a three-hour meeting and hearing from dozens of concerned residents, the Atkinson Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously denied a permit application for a Diaper Spa on Wednesday. Board members denied the permit due to inconsistencies in the application and the negative impact on the community.  “Nobody has heard of this stuff, and you can say, ‘You just don’t understand,’” vice chair Robert Connors told Diaper Spa owner Colleen Murphy. “There’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that don’t understand because this is not something that’s a customary home occupation, and that’s where I can’t get past this.” Many in the room erupted in applause at the zoning board’s decision.  The Diaper Spa has garnered national media attention for its services tailored toward adults who wear diapers and role play as children. Many residents said they’ve seen an increase in traffic in the residential neighborhood on Pope Road. Some said they felt unsafe. Murphy called the neighbors’ remarks an “inflamed reaction from a lack of understanding” from social media and the news media.  “I realized there were things that people misunderstood or were being misconstrued,” she said. "I think they are not the audience for these types of services, and therefore they don't understand the specific language, or the specific idea regarding the concept.” Some scientific studies reference the services Murphy provides. A 2017 article in The Journal of Sexual Medicine said Adult Baby Diaper Lovers (ABDL) may wear, urinate in, and defecate in diapers, use baby toys, suck on pacifiers, crawl, and express desires to become a baby, be treated like a baby, and have their diapers changed. Scholars have suggested that individuals’ relationships or attachments to parents or past trauma may be related to ABDL interests. Some ABDL practices are sexual, and some aren't.  

Related: Here’s what you need to know about New Hampshire’s controversial adult diaper spa

Murphy emphasized at the meeting that her services aren’t sexual.   Murphy said she sees two or three clients for in-person visits per month, which are offered for $200 in a 1,000 square-foot space above her three-car garage. She sees about 95% of clients remotely.  Murphy said one of her services is changing her clients’ diapers and providing baby powder.   She said there is “no genital contact” between her and her clients, telling board members, “I wear gloves.” “In a two-hour visit, a diaper change takes less than 5 minutes,” Murphy said. “It’s in the name (of my business), it’s not the focus.” Clients spend most of the time coloring or playing with toys, Murphy said. According to Murphy's website, she offers bed and breakfast services for $1,500. She said at the meeting that the bed and breakfast is only offered as a convenience for clients traveling from far away.  Murphy said her clients need to be at least 21 and she conducts background checks to make sure they aren’t registered sex offenders.  Murphy had been seeing clients in her home for about six weeks before a building inspector visited her house and told her she needed a permit. Murphy told the board she stopped providing services immediately and submitted the necessary paperwork.  Some board members said there was a discrepancy between the services listed on Murphy’s website and her zoning permit. She said on the application she provides counseling for mental health. At the meeting, Murphy said she’s a sex and relationship coach. She provides mental health support services and coaching, but is not a licensed therapist. Some people at the meeting said her business sounded like sex work—a sentiment Murphy continually denied.   “This has already changed the character of the neighborhood,” Connors, the vice president of the board said.  Abutter Mike Vigliotta said he’s seen people taking selfies in front of Murphy’s home due to the national attention. “We’re talking about maybe $50 million of surrounding property value that’s been instantly decreased,” he said.  Murphy has 30 days to appeal the board’s decision. She is also scheduled to appear before the state in response to complaints from neighbors.   

By Katy Savage

February 15, 2024

After a three-hour meeting and hearing from dozens of concerned residents, the Atkinson Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously denied a permit application for a Diaper Spa on Wednesday.

Board members denied the permit due to inconsistencies in the application and the negative impact on the community. 

“Nobody has heard of this stuff, and you can say, ‘You just don’t understand,’” vice chair Robert Connors told Diaper Spa owner Colleen Murphy. “There’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that don’t understand because this is not something that’s a customary home occupation, and that’s where I can’t get past this.”

Many in the room erupted in applause at the zoning board’s decision. 

The Diaper Spa has garnered national media attention for its services tailored toward adults who wear diapers and role play as children. Many residents said they’ve seen an increase in traffic in the residential neighborhood on Pope Road. Some said they felt unsafe.

Murphy called the neighbors’ remarks an “inflamed reaction from a lack of understanding” from social media and the news media. 

“I realized there were things that people misunderstood or were being misconstrued,” she said. “I think they are not the audience for these types of services, and therefore they don’t understand the specific language, or the specific idea regarding the concept.”

Some scientific studies reference the services Murphy provides. A 2017 article in The Journal of Sexual Medicine said Adult Baby Diaper Lovers (ABDL) may wear, urinate in, and defecate in diapers, use baby toys, suck on pacifiers, crawl, and express desires to become a baby, be treated like a baby, and have their diapers changed. Scholars have suggested that individuals’ relationships or attachments to parents or past trauma may be related to ABDL interests. Some ABDL practices are sexual, and some aren’t.  

Related: Here’s what you need to know about New Hampshire’s controversial adult diaper spa

Murphy emphasized at the meeting that her services aren’t sexual.  

Murphy said she sees two or three clients for in-person visits per month, which are offered for $200 in a 1,000 square-foot space above her three-car garage. She sees about 95% of clients remotely. 

Murphy said one of her services is changing her clients’ diapers and providing baby powder.  

She said there is “no genital contact” between her and her clients, telling board members, “I wear gloves.”

“In a two-hour visit, a diaper change takes less than 5 minutes,” Murphy said. “It’s in the name (of my business), it’s not the focus.”

Clients spend most of the time coloring or playing with toys, Murphy said.

According to Murphy’s website, she offers bed and breakfast services for $1,500. She said at the meeting that the bed and breakfast is only offered as a convenience for clients traveling from far away. 

Murphy said her clients need to be at least 21 and she conducts background checks to make sure they aren’t registered sex offenders. 

Murphy had been seeing clients in her home for about six weeks before a building inspector visited her house and told her she needed a permit. Murphy told the board she stopped providing services immediately and submitted the necessary paperwork. 

Some board members said there was a discrepancy between the services listed on Murphy’s website and her zoning permit. She said on the application she provides counseling for mental health. At the meeting, Murphy said she’s a sex and relationship coach. She provides mental health support services and coaching, but is not a licensed therapist.

Some people at the meeting said her business sounded like sex work—a sentiment Murphy continually denied.  

“This has already changed the character of the neighborhood,” Connors, the vice president of the board said. 

Abutter Mike Vigliotta said he’s seen people taking selfies in front of Murphy’s home due to the national attention.

“We’re talking about maybe $50 million of surrounding property value that’s been instantly decreased,” he said. 

Murphy has 30 days to appeal the board’s decision. She is also scheduled to appear before the state in response to complaints from neighbors. 

 

Author

  • Katy Savage

    Katy Savage is an award-winning reporter with more than 10 years of experience working in daily, weekly and digital news organizations as both an editor and reporter. Based in Enfield, Katy is a New England native and has a passion for telling stories about where she grew up. In her free time, she enjoys running and being outside as much as possible.

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