County's Fight Against Parlor, Book Store Makes A Ko

Suit, Operationare 'Dead' Says Attorney

September 15, 1991|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

A Linthicum massage parlor, shut down last month for violating county zoning laws, will remain closed for good, an Anne Arundel judge ruled Friday.

At the request of county attorneys, Circuit Court JudgeEugene Lerner dismissed a lawsuit filed by the owner of V.I.P. Health Center, 500 Camp Meade Road, asking that the establishment be allowed to reopen.

There was no argument from V.I.P.'s Baltimore attorney, Michael P. May, who conceded that the suit had been filed on the erroneous belief that V.I.P. was located in an area where massage parlors were permitted.

The county is to blame for V.I.P.'s error. By mistake, it issued a zoning permit that showed V.I.P. was in a general commercialdistrict, which allows massage parlors as special exceptions.

In fact, the zoning was changed from general commercial to community retail more than a year before the certificate of use was issued. Neither massage parlors nor health spas are allowed in community retail areas.

"Under the law, it makes no difference" that V.I.P.'s certificate of use shows general commercial zoning, May said after the five-minute hearing.

The error means V.I.P.'s lease is void, May said, adding that his client, George Pappas of Norcross, Ga., has no intention of opening a different operation in the same location.

"It's gone. It's dead," May said.

Two weeks ago, Lerner denied V.I.P.'s request for a temporary injunction to reopen until a hearing could be conducted, citing the fact that zoning law prohibits health spas and massage parlors in that location.

"Nothing has changed since then,"Lerner said Friday, just before dismissing the case and ordering theplaintiff to pay all court costs.

V.I.P. and another North Countymassage parlor, Rose Oriental Spa, 7484-E Candlewood Road, Hanover, were closed within a day of each other for violating zoning laws. Police wanted to close both places after they found female masseuses manually stimulating male clients, but masturbation is not covered undersolicitation laws.

Since then, Rose Oriental Spa has been workingwith zoning officials to meet requirements for a health spa.

On Monday, the County Council will hold a public hearing on a bill that would closely regulate the massage industry by, among other things, setting minimum training standards and prohibiting massage of "erogenous areas." The bill's sponsor, Councilman George Bachman, D-Linthicum,led the fight to close V.I.P. and Rose Oriental Spa.

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