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Mount Prospect puts new rules on massage businesses

Mount Prospect officials have approved new regulations for massage businesses, modified since their January introduction after village staff heard from some licensed massage therapists concerned about the proposed ordinance.

“We have had extensive discussions with a number of local massage therapists and a representative from a massage therapist professional association,” Assistant Village Manager David Strahl said. “We decided it would make more sense to focus on the regulation aspect than on the economic aspect.”

The new ordinance is sensitive to legitimate massage services, Strahl said, while still allowing the village to go after businesses that are fronts for illegal activities. Illegal activities have included prostitution or other sex acts under the guise of massage services. Strahl said in January the village had pulled the business licenses of at least four massage establishments in the last few years.

“We really appreciate the opportunity to work closely with [village staff] and help the village accomplish its goal,” said Tracy Smodilla, one of those participating in the discussions that included Strahl and Police Chief John Dahlberg. Smodilla, of Bartlett, is a licensed massage therapist and a member of the American Massage Therapy Association.

The new ordinance, approved unanimously April 17, establishes a separate village business license for massage establishments, as did the earlier version. But the license, which was to have cost $1,000, is now set at $250 for the first year of a new or relocated business.

A license for subsequent years will cost $100 a year, comparable to other types of businesses in the village.

The new ordinance also coordinates village regulations with state licensing rules, Strahl said. In addition to state requirements for massage therapists, owners and operators of massage establishments who are not licensed therapists will be subject to criminal record checks for which they will pay the costs.

For massage businesses owned by corporations, the background check and fingerprinting requirements extend to owners of 10 percent or more of the corporation’s stock and to officers and directors.

The ordinance sets layout, housekeeping and sanitation standards for massage establishments.

The new ordinance also sets the minimum age for massage patrons at 18. Those under 18 may receive massage services only if accompanied by a parent.

Strahl and therapists attending the April 17 meeting estimated there might be 12 to 15 massage businesses in the village.

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