Cary Village Board discusses strict approach to massage businesses

‘I think that it’s important that we set the record straight and we have strong regulations that will make sure that everybody is on the straight and narrow,’ mayor says

Cary is looking at tightening regulations on massage establishments in the village by making it so they need locally issued licenses to operate, while also making stricter zoning requirements for massage establishments wanting to move to the area.

Doing this will help the village ensure these businesses are operating as they should, and that they are maintaining good standards regarding their cleanliness and exterior appearance, Community Development Director Brian Simmons said.

Additionally, licensing massage businesses would give village staff the ability to inspect them and make sure no illegal activities are taking place, he said.

“There’s been an influx of businesses in recent years that have come into the village,” Simmons said. “[This ordinance] make sure that they’re operating on an even plane.”

A proposed draft ordinance, which village trustees discussed at a Community of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, would establish a new license type for massage establishments. Under the draft ordinance, staff suggested an annual fee of $100, which is comparable with the rates the village charges for a tobacco license. These fees would cover the administrative costs of reviewing and issuing these licenses. Fox River Grove and McHenry both have $100 licensing fees, with McHenry’s license lasting for a three year term while Fox River Grove’s license term is annual. Crystal Lake has a one-time $50 license fee and Algonquin and Lake in the Hills issues a them for $250 every year.

So far, these massage business regulations have just been in the discussion stage with Village Board members. Once there is a recommendation from the board on the finalizing the rules, the proposed changes will be scheduled for Cary’s Zoning, Planning and Appeals Board for a public hearing.

With these licensing requirements could come new zoning requirements for new massage establishments in Cary as well. New establishments would have to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals and be reviewed by the Village Board before getting a license, and massage businesses would not be able to be within 1,000 feet of any existing massage establishments, schools, day cares or places of worship.

Saying the village wants to do anything it can to prohibit any kind of unlawful behavior, Cary Mayor Mark Kownick wanted to take some regulations a step further, and make it so massage establishments are not allowed downtown. He also wanted to make the license fees more than $100.

“People are asking me about these all the time,” Kownick said.”I think that it’s important that we set the record straight and we have strong regulations that will make sure that everybody is on the straight and narrow.”

Trustee Ellen McAlpine said it is important to address the downtown issue, as that’s a place where the village wants to invest money into.

Initially, language in the ordinance called only for licensing businesses that provide massages as their primary service; however, at Tuesday’s meeting trustees expressed interest in making it so establishments that provide massages as an accessory service, such as a chiropractor or spa, also would need to get licensed.

McAlpine said it would be hard to explain to someone why one business that provides massages would need a license, but others don’t.

Simmons said the reason village staff originally proposed not licensing secondary operations is because those establishments are licensed separately with the state.

However, Trustee Rick Dudek said it wouldn’t surprise him if, for instance, a chiropractor’s office has someone offering massage services as an independent contractor.

“I would prefer to see the same regulation, whether it’s their primary or its ancillary business,” Dudek said.

Cassie Buchman

Cassie Buchman

I cover Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Cary, Fox River Grove, Prairie Grove and Oakwood Hills for the Northwest Herald.