Avon hopes to have massage parlor regulations in place by the end of the year.

City Council's Safety Committee is developing legislation to regulate massage parlors in the city that will withstand legal challenges.

Avon Law Director John Gasior updated the Safety Committee on Nov. 11 about the progress he is making in drafting a law. The law could require massage parlors to pay an annual operating fee, allow inspections and require its employees or masseuses to have a medical-related license or many hours of training.

Gasior has been reviewing massage parlor laws for the cities of Warren and Brunswick. Reviewing those laws will help see what other cities have done instead of relying on their respective county boards of health to periodically conduct inspections on massage parlors to make sure they are abiding by their requirements, Gasior said.

City leaders want the legislation to prevent the parlors from conducting illegal activity. The Ohio Department of Public Safety's Investigative Unit and the U.S. Secret Service raided and shut down Posh Massage on Detroit Road on July 31. Posh was one of 13 parlors raided throughout northern and northeast Ohio because of complaints of sexual activity, prostitution and human trafficking-related offenses inside them. Prosecutors have charged 13 people, including the manager of Posh, which remains closed.

But the raid revealed that Avon had no laws or requirements for masseuses, massage therapists or technicians like it has for hospitals, medical-related practices and chiropractors.

Warren's law puts requirements on the parlors and their workers. It requires massage parlors to pay an annual $1,800 application fee to remain open and the workers must pay a $640 annual fee. Workers must successfully complete a criminal background check, be licensed with a minimum amount of training and meet age requirements for those giving and receiving a massage.

Application fees to open a massage parlor or annual operating permits range in cost from about $150 and up. Comparably, the cost for an operating permit in Niles, Ohio, costs $500 annually, Gasior said.

Gasior said the city probably would require those receiving a massage to be at least 18 and masseuses be at least 19.

"If the state hasn't come to this area to regulate the business, the city has the right to exercise its policing and regulating authorities involving businesses," Gasior said. "We need to protect the businesses operating legitimately and the citizens. It's a health, safety and welfare issue."

The existing massage parlors in Avon likely would be given one year to comply with whatever regulations would be put in place, Gasior said.

Avon has at least three other massage parlors all along Detroit Road: Elements on 35638 Detroit Road; Massage Envy at 35825 Detroit Road and Asian Massage at 36937 Detroit Road..

Councilman Brian Fischer, the Safety Committee chairman, said after the meeting that he also would like to see some other cities’ laws regulating massage parlors and how they have fared against any lawsuits or legal challenges.

"I'm glad we're not rushing into anything," Fischer said. "We just need to determine where we would stand legally once we put a law in place. We do need a law in place that regulates these businesses and requirements for those who work there."

Contact this reporter at msakal@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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