All massage parlors in Hilliard soon could be required to have a state-issued license, according to pending legislation being considered by Hilliard City Council.
The legislation applies to "massage and bath establishments," according to David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.
"Any such establishments would have to be licensed, but the city has not registered any bath houses and is not aware of any of them operating in Hilliard," he said.
The legislation is scheduled for a second reading and public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, at the Hilliard Municipal Building, 3800 Municipal Way. A third and final reading is scheduled Sept. 23.
The ordinance does not have emergency language; therefore, it would become effective 30 days after its passage, Ball said.
The legislation would repeal a five-month moratorium on new massage parlors City Council enacted June 10, said Dawn Steele, a staff attorney and prosecutor for Hilliard.
"This legislation will require any establishment providing massages to be state-licensed," she said.
Only massages performed for medical purposes will be exempted, Steele said.
The moratorium was enacted to allow the city to craft the pending legislation, she said.
"This replaces it," Steele said.
Before the moratorium, only one business in Hilliard was operating as a massage parlor without a state license.
Ball identified it as Eamsar Spa, 5060 Cemetery Road.
ThisWeek has been unable to reach anyone at Eamsar for comment.
On Aug. 28, the business was closed at 11:30 a.m., but a posted sign said hours were 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. On Sept. 3, the business was closed at 2 p.m.
The city currently does not keep a list of licensed massage parlors, Ball said.
"The city does not do the licensing," he said. "It is done by the state. We do not currently require state-licensed massage parlors to register with the city, so we don't keep a list."
However, the proposed legislation would require all massage parlors to register with the city and provide their state license numbers, so the city would begin maintaining a list, Ball said.
One business had an application pending before the moratorium.
Ball identified that applicant as Victoria Wellness X2 LLC, 3679 Fishinger Blvd.
The business applied to open in the former GNC store in Mill Run.
ThisWeek has been unable to contact the applicant for comment.
Austin Wathen of Equity identified the real-estate company as the property owner Sept. 3. He said he was not aware of the status of the application of Victoria Wellness or the intentions of the applicant because it is separate and apart from the lease agreement.
The moratorium was in reaction to the previous closure of two 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 Court Judge Stephanie Mingo granted temporary restraining orders against the two businesses to shutter them.
The businesses remain closed, Ball said.
"There is no ongoing SIU investigation; this was a civil action, not criminal," he said. "When the parlors were closed earlier this year, these closures were performed as a result of a nuisance abatement filed against the two establishments. The city's request for a permanent injunction to shut down the businesses was agreed to and granted.
"Filing a civil nuisance lawsuit and getting such an injunction was the fastest way to close the businesses and, most importantly, ensure the safety of (potential human-trafficking) victims."
"(Our) goal is to require (that applicants) have state licenses to operate as a massage therapist," Steele said. "We see that as an effective way to keep out any business that might possibly engage in human trafficking or prostitution."