No new massage parlors of any kind will be permitted to open in Hilliard in the near future after Hilliard City Council on June 10 acted to enforce a five-month moratorium on the issuance of permits.

The moratorium was effective immediately.

"This moratorium will result in no new permits issued while legal (counsel) and council work on a permanent ordinance with the eventual goal of requiring all massage parlors and bath houses to possess state licenses," said David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.

All operating massage parlors in Hilliard but one have a state license, according to Ball.

Dawn Steele, a staff attorney and prosecutor for the city, said city officials asked City Council for the moratorium until legislation could be crafted and approved to require massage-parlor applicants to have state licenses.

"The goal is to require (that applicants) have state licenses to operate as a massage therapist," she said. "We see that as an effective way to keep out any business that might possibly engage in human trafficking or prostitution."

The city had one pending application.

Ball identified that applicant as Victoria Wellness X2 LLC, 3679 Fishinger Blvd.

"The business that will be affected by this moratorium is Victoria Wellness, which will not be granted a permit at this time," Ball said.

The business had applied to open in the former GNC store in Mill Run.

The city has one other operating massage parlor that has a city permit but does not have a state license, Ball said.

He identified it as Eamsar Spa Inc., 5060 Cemetery Road.

"It is important to note that the city is not implying that either of these businesses are not legitimate establishments, (but) they do not have state licenses," Ball said. "Our proposed legislation will require such licenses."

The moratorium is in reaction to the previous closure of two Hilliard massage parlors that lacked state licenses, Steele said.

They were ordered closed in April after an investigation into activities, according to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office Special Investigation Unit.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office Special Investigation Unit and the Hilliard Division of Police on April 11 closed Angel's Touch Asia Spa, 4641 Leap Court, and Happy Body Massage, 4512 Cemetery Road.

The closures occurred after Hilliard filed civil nuisance-abatement lawsuits against the two locations and Franklin County Municipal Judge Stephanie Mingo granted temporary restraining orders against the two businesses to shutter them.

No criminal charges were filed and none are expected, Ball said, though the businesses remain closed.

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