Fort Valley council acts against massage parlors

FORT VALLEY — City Council approved at its Thursday meeting a moratorium on issuing licenses for massage establishments.

The moratorium, in place for 120 days, is to give the Legislature and Macon and Bibb County officials, who are currently working on local regulation of the facilities, time to progress with their actions. Fort Valley officials will take the other actions into consideration when considering changes to their rules, officials said.

“It gives us an opportunity to find out what’s going on in other places,” City Attorney Charles E. Jones said.

Recent legislation by state Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, seeks to strengthen state regulation of the businesses, while making it clear local jurisdictions can regulate as well.

Police busts have found several massage parlors and spas in Macon to be fronts for illegal sexual activity.

Also at the meeting, the Fort Valley City Council approved changes to the city’s urban redevelopment plan, which seeks, among other things, to attract businesses to specific areas in the city.

Laura Mathis, director of public administration for the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, said during the meeting the amendment was necessary after state officials made changes to rules regarding state opportunity zones.

State officials who toured the Fort Valley last year saw the city’s proposed opportunity zone as being too large and recommended an area in the city they felt business development was more likely to take place.

Businesses that open in a state-approved opportunity zone and create two or more jobs are able to receive a $3,500 tax credit per job that companies can use against their income tax or withholding tax, Mathis said.

Another redevelopment plan, created in 2006 for Peach County and its cities, includes parts of Fort Valley singled out for housing. The city added enterprise and opportunity zones, Mayor John Stumbo said, to attract new businesses to the area while using state rulings that created the special tax credits.

“I’m pleased that the plan includes our downtown,” Stumbo said. “This has been a matter of considerable debate.”

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report.

To contact writer Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9685.