FORSYTH COUNTY — Forsyth County’s proposed crackdown on illegal or illicit activities in massage parlors and spas moved forward Thursday, though as a separate ordinance not connected to adult entertainment.
The county commission held a second public hearing on the measure Thursday night. The discussion had previously centered on putting massage parlors under the county’s adult entertainment ordinance, which legitimate workers and some officials felt mischaracterized the businesses.
“One of the main concerns that I have had is the placement of this within the adult entertainment ordinance,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard. “… I have spoken with [Sheriff Duane Piper], he indicated that he understood the concerns as well.”
Under the proposal, massage establishments would be required to have a license, and employees who do not have a state-issued license would be required to get a work permit through Forsyth.
In addition, under the new rules, beds would be banned, all employees would be required to be clothed and the businesses could not have anyone in the building between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
David Ashley spoke in favor of the changes.
“It is a concern, something that we want to see addressed,” he said. “But we do want to take into the business impacts that would result from the ordinance and make sure that it is done in a way that addresses the issue, but does it in a way that has as minimal an impact as possible on businesses that shouldn’t be impacted.”
The commission voted to postpone its decision until Oct. 15. On Monday, officials will meet with stakeholders of massage parlors and spas to discuss the ordinance.
The proposed ordinance is modeled heavily on a similar measure in a neighboring city.
“Johns Creek had to come up with an ordinance for their law enforcement to be able to catch these people,” Mills said. “It drove those people out … and it drove them into our jurisdiction.”
Karen Labor, who recently moved to Forsyth from Johns Creek, said that she was part of a group of citizens and community leaders involved in looking at massage parlors there.
“The majority of these practitioners in these pop-up storefront kinds of establishments are not typically even English-speaking,” she said. “Many of them are immigrants. We were concerned that many of them might be involuntarily, and be actually involved in sex trafficking from abroad.”
The commission voted to postpone its decision until Oct. 15. On Monday, officials plan to meet with stakeholders of massage parlors and spas to discuss the ordinance.