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Board approves changes to massage/spa ordinance

County strengthens operating regulations for local businesses



FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — After a string of arrests for prostitution and providing illegal sexual acts at local massage parlors, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners has updated its policy governing the establishments.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the original ordinance has been in effect since November 2015. Since then, various entities have experienced its usefulness out in the field, including the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

But now it’s being re-examined for some tweaks due to their experiences, Jarrard said. Those include:

  • Increase the length of a license revocation
  • Increase the length of time a property is disqualified from applying for a new license
  • Establish additional regulations regarding the operation of massage and/or spa establishments
  • Establish additional regulations regarding employees of massage and/or spa establishments

The sheriff’s office has the ability to exempt certain vendors from the requirements of the ordinance if, in its discretion, the vendors are responsible actors. One of the criteria is determining whether there has been any unlawful activity at the business and extends its good-behavior requirement from 12 months to 36 months.

“The window of good behavior has now gotten longer,” Jarrard said.

He said disqualification of the license was for five years previously, but now it’s forever. Moreover, a revocation was formerly 12 months. Now it’s three years.

An advanced section of requirements from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations has also been included.

“We’ve had to add language that’s mainly based off sheriff’s office experience in the field,” Jarrard said. “With respect to employees, no bras, bikini tops, bustier or like clothing may be exposed. No employee may be disrobed in any way to expose various portions of their anatomy.”

The word “recklessly” was taken out of a few areas of the ordinance because Jarrard said if workers violate the policy, recklessly or not, it was violated, so they’re done.

“You’ll see the portion of, ‘no employee can assist any customer in showering,’” Jarrard said. “This seems self-evident, but these are situations the sheriff’s office has encountered.”

Another new provision says the licensee or work permit holder will have their license or permit suspended, revoked or be placed on probation if they have been convicted of any specified criminal activity.

“We’re bringing this back to you to make it better and hopefully more enforceable,” Jarrard said.

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has conducted multiple massage parlor raids since the inception of the ordinance in 2015.

In March 2016, the office conducted a large operation targeting illegal massage parlors in the county, many of which are now shut down.

In May, another undercover operation found three businesses attempting to provide illegal sexual acts, leading to three arrests.

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