Frederick County Council Approves Bodyworks Bill

It updates the county’s  zoning laws on these types of businesses.

Frederick, Md (KM) In a unanimous vote last Tuesday, the Frederick County Council approved a zoning ordinance which updates the definition of bodyworks establishments such as massage parlors, and spas, and adds some new criteria. The purpose is to make sure these establishments are not fronts for such activities such as human trafficking, money laundering, prostitution and drug crimes.

One of the co-sponsors of the legislation was Councilwoman Renee Knapp. “Got a letter of support today from the Commission for Women, and this is a good update on this important issue to protect people in Frederick County,”  she said.

The other co-sponsor was Councilwoman M.C. Keegan-Ayer. She noted that these businesses have caused some problems in the immigrant community. “They seem to see an unusual number of folks in their community being used inappropriately for these kind of businesses. So I think this is definitely needed,” she said.

Both Councilwomen sponsored this bill on behalf of the County Executivr4.

The ordinance states that prior to applying for a building permit, the applicants who want to set up these types of establishments must submit a Zoning Verification letter to the Zoning Administrator which includes a description of the business, a list of current employees, and copies  of the  required licenses  from the State of Maryland for each listed employee. For those employees who don’t require a license, there needs to be a verification of their professional training.

Another  requirement under this new law is for  an owner of a bodyworks business  to file an annual report to the Zooning Administrator which updates the list  of employees, and copies of all licenses required by the state, or verification of professional training.

Bodyworks instruction may only be  provided  by persons  who are enrolled in a bodyworks training program recognized by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, and in accordance with applicable state law and regulations  governing bodyworks education.

The establishment’s premises may not be used as  a place of human habitation.

The Zoning Administrator or a designee is authorized to conduct periodic inspections of a bodyworks business to verify compliance.  Any violation by a bodyworks establishment will result in the suspension or  revocation of the Zoning Certificate approval.

County officials say this ordinance resulted from the    collaboration of Frederick County’s INTERCEPT Task Force, and the County’s  Division of Planning and Permitting.   INTERCEPT stands for Inter-Agency Child Exploitation and Persons Trafficking. It follows the investigation  of illicit massage parlors in Frederick City and the County.

‘I want to thank the administration for bringing this forward. I’m very pleased with how it reads. And I think we’re doing exactly what we need  to do to help protect those in our community from a myriad of these terrible things that we’ve seen happen,” said Councilman Mason Carter.

By Kevin McManus