Massage businesses could find it harder to open in certain Buffalo Grove locations under a measure discussed Monday by village officials.
A proposed ordinance would bar any massage business from opening for two years in a space where a massage establishment license has been revoked for prostitution or other violation.
Village Manager Dane Bragg said the village has seen a recent uptick in the number of prostitution charges and subsequent convictions linked to massage establishments. Since 2011, three prostitution convictions have occurred, along with other charges that were reduced to criminal trespass, he said.
Village Attorney William Raysa said the 24-month timeout has legal precedent in three municipalities: Chicago, Park Ridge and Mount Prospect. None of them, he said, have faced legal challenges.
According to the village, eight massage establishments are licensed in the village, with three more applications pending.
Although the majority of those applications are legitimate, the village said, massage therapists at Sun Spa, 1359 W. Dundee Road, were convicted of criminal prostitution in 2011 and 2012. The village revoked Sun Spa's business license after the second conviction.
Last year, a massage therapist at YDSA Enterprises, which did business as Yedam Spa, was found guilty of criminal prostitution, while a separate massage therapist was convicted of not having the required massage therapist license. Yedam's business license and massage establishment license were revoked.
Bragg said the village has since received an application from another massage business seeking to occupy the former Yedam Spa space at 1105 Weiland Road.
Raysa said Buffalo Grove does not have the authority to regulate or license massage therapists, but it can regulate licensed massage establishments.
"We have gone to very lengthy levels to make certain that physical touching, if you will, in a prostitution case is a violation not only of state statute but of village ordinances," he said.
Officials said cost considerations make it much easier for a massage business to open in a space already set up with necessary equipment and facilities. For example, the village requires massage business to have showers for men and women, locker rooms and bathrooms.
"In addition to the cost, you have to assume at some point that the property owners act in their own rational self-interest," Trustee Jeffrey Berman added. "Would they want to take the risk of now having two or three of their spaces over time go dark?"
Trustees asked the village staff to further examine the proposed restrictions. No timeline was set for when the measure might come up for a vote.