Bibb County commissioners united Tuesday to crack down on illicit activities at the area’s massage parlors.
Taking effect immediately, a county ordinance brings greater regulation of massage parlors as a business. In essence, anyone offering “tactile stimulation” would have to be a state-licensed massage therapist. The measure parallels one passed earlier this year by the Macon City Council that won’t take effect for about two more months. The two ordinances essentially are the same.
Macon officials say they’ve had more than a dozen problematic massage parlors, with arrests on charges such as prostitution and masturbation for hire. Unincorporated Bibb County has had arrests at one parlor, Four Seasons Spa on Arkwright Road.
County Commissioner Joe Allen said he plans to send copies of the county ordinance to other area communities where similar businesses might crop up. Officials in Crisp, Houston, Laurens and Monroe counties are interested, Allen said.
The measure was approved in a 4-0 vote without discussion. Commission Chairman Sam Hart was out of town.
David Corr, a local Libertarian who has fought the proposed ordinances and says he’s a spokesman for the massage parlors, said he didn’t bother attending Tuesday’s commission meeting because he wouldn’t change commissioners’ minds.
He said he doesn’t expect the ordinance’s broad definition of massage will survive.
“Lawyers will try to find loopholes and/or a legal challenge,” said Corr, who said Four Seasons has provided a valuable service.
Allen said earlier Tuesday that he’s been wanting such an ordinance for a long time.
“In my opinion, a lot of immoral acts took place in these locations, and we’re right in the middle of the Bible Belt,” Allen said.
County commissioners had hoped to sync their policy with one from Macon, where some council members had been pushing such an ordinance for the past two years.
Advocates say the ordinances will let Macon and Bibb County regulate massage parlors as businesses. That may require less scrutiny from police and deputies. The state regulates only people or businesses that use the word “massage,” but Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, created and passed a bill this year to make clear that local governments could pass such regulations.
Bibb County’s new ordinance requires state massage licenses for anyone “touching, rubbing, probing, scrubbing, bathing, cleaning, rinsing.”
In a separate, unrelated measure, county commissioners approved plans to put their agendas and supporting materials — typically dozens of pages — online for public review. However, commissioners balked at the idea of putting draft, unapproved minutes from their meetings online.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.