AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Austintown trustees met Monday to discuss adult-oriented businesses they say are a front for illegal activity.
Austintown trustees went in to executive session, but before they adjourned, they gave a first reading on a law that would pass further restrictions on some adult businesses in the township.
Massage parlors are targeted by this new law. The zoning change would restrict hours of operation and other details of business operation. Unlike most commercial properties in the township, adult-oriented businesses are subject to both interior and exterior zoning regulations.
“The Ohio Revised Code was revised to allow townships to regulate the interiors of massage parlors,” said Austintown Zoning Inspector Darren Crivelli. “Based on a documented history of negative secondary effects, we’re more restrictive.”
There is only one massage parlor in operation in Austintown right now on 76 Drive and it does have a license.
Monday’s meeting was the first of three public hearings on the issue, and no one spoke against the new zoning proposals. Two more hearings must be held before the new regulations can be approved.
“What we have found obviously is that this type of business is typically a front for prostitution. We have one operating in the community and so what we want to do is make sure there are regulations in place to number one, make sure it is monitored, to make sure the people who are running those establishments in the community are doing it on the up and up. To prevent those types of crimes from happening,” said Austintown Trustee Jim Davis.
Davis said the new regulations mostly deal with the hours of operation.
“We want to make sure the times they are open are accurate times. Most people that typically would go to get a massage at 3 a.m. are not looking for therapy, that is for sure,” Davis said.
A dozen massage parlors in Trumbull County were the focus of a prostitution sting by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in 2012.