Grayslake OKs new approval process for massage businesses

While Grayslake has new regulations governing massage businesses that want to open there, they are not as strict as original recommendations received by the village board.

Village board members recently voted 6-0 in favor of an ordinance amendment requiring the granting of a special-use permit for massage proposed as a primary business. Village trustees are responsible for final approval of the special permits.

Officials said the special-use permit process allows for greater control of business license applicants who want to provide massage services. The massage business became an issue in Grayslake last year after an undercover police investigation at a parlor led to a prostitution bust.

Trustees declined to impose further regulations on the massage industry that were recommended by the advisory Grayslake plan commission/zoning board of appeals.

For example, one of the rejected suggestions was to not allow massage businesses in any residential areas.

Mayor Rhett Taylor said current businesses won't be affected by the ordinance update. A massage operation will be automatically allowed in all nonresidential areas as an accessory use to a state-licensed medical facility.

Before the Grayslake village board approved the ordinance amendment, several licensed massage therapists said they appreciated the effort to keep out illicit businesses. They also said they didn't want the village going too far in its oversight of massage businesses.

Grayslake resident Ellen Winick, a massage instructor at College of Lake County with a private practice, said legitimate operators who want to open in the village should not mind the village board's special-use process for approval.

"I think, for all of us here, we would feel protected by that (regulation)," Winick told the elected officials.

Another Grayslake massage therapist, Julie Hansa, said the idea of tightening the control on massage businesses was appropriate.

"You guys have been strong in your stance against illegitimate massage therapy places," Hansa said. "You have no idea how much that means to me, as a citizen living in (Grayslake) and as a massage therapist."

Last May, Grayslake revoked the business license of Kyoto Spa and Massage on Route 83, where police say two women were charged with prostitution.

Documents obtained through a Daily Herald Freedom of Information Act request say Grayslake police received "several complaints that sexual favors for money were being offered to clients of the Kyoto Spa during the provision of massage services." The complaints were recorded before police initiated the undercover probe at the business in March 2013.

Grayslake put on hold any approvals for new massage proposals after the Kyoto Spa bust.

Twitter: @DHBobSusnjara

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