During last week’s meeting of Delaware City Council, city staff continued discussions surrounding proposed additional legislation to regulate massage parlors within Delaware. The conversation was a continuation of discussions that began last September when City Attorney Darren Shulman presented various options to council.
Those options included not taking any further measures at that time, requiring all massage therapists to hold a license from the State Medical Board of Ohio, or changing massage use in the city’s zoning code from a permitted use to a conditional use.
Last February, the City of Westerville adopted an ordinance requiring all massage therapists to be licensed through the medical board after a police raid was conducted on a local massage parlor suspected of involvement in prostitution and human trafficking.
What was presented at last week’s meeting was a sort of middle ground between the two proactive options originally presented to staff. The ordinance would require any new massage parlors coming into the city to be licensed through the state unless exempt, such as chiropractors or doctors.
“It will, I believe, ensure that any new massage parlors that come into the city have that certification that we wanted,” Shulman told council last week.
One of the concerns brought up last September was bringing unintended consequences on established, legitimate businesses. Shulman said that with the currently proposed ordinance, businesses that already have their certificate of occupancy won’t face any “accidental impact.”
He added the city hasn’t had any arrests involving prostitution or human trafficking in the past, and that the proposed ordinance would be more of a “preventative measure” for any future businesses.
Councilman Chris Jones said he had heard from some of “his constituents” who expressed concerns about why the ordinance wouldn’t be retroactive to include current businesses, and he suggested there would be opposition to the legislation from the public for not going far enough.
During the September discussion, Councilman George Hellinger said he would not support any type of legislation to regulate massage parlors.
“Not every unlicensed, non-therapeutic massage place is the ‘happy ending’ massage parlor,” Hellinger said. “There’s a wide variety there, and I think it’s up to our law enforcement to keep illicit businesses in check.”
Council will continue consideration of the ordinance at Monday’s meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers of City Hall.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @ddavis_gazette.