Shut-down Massage Parlor Reopens As Health Club

September 18, 1991|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,Staff writer

A Hanover massage parlor closed last month for zoning violations hasreopened as a health club.

Rose Oriental Spa received a temporarycertificate last week to operate as a health club, said acting zoning administrator Richard Josephson. The spa has been bringing in Nautilus and other exercise equipment, lockers and a tanning machine to meet the requirements of a health club.

The club has 30 days to complete the work. The county could then issue a permanent certificate, Josephson said.

Police investigatedRose and another massage parlor, V.I.P. Health Center in Linthicum, for more than a year. In both parlors, female masseuses were observedmanually stimulating male clients, but masturbation is not illegal under county or state solicitation laws.

Both parlors were closed last month for violating zoning laws. Last Friday, a county judge ruled that V.I.P. will remain closed for good. But Rose has been working with county officials to reopen as a health club.

Josephson said the club will continue to offer massages, but he's not sure if the club is still offering masturbation.

"We hope they don't, but there'sa bill in the works that should take care of that," he said.

Thatbill, proposed by County Councilman George Bachman, D-Linthicum, gotits first airing at a County Council meeting Monday night. The council will take up the bill again Oct. 7.

Several members of the American Massage Therapists Association spoke in favor of the bill, saying it would help them in their struggle to be recognized by the state as medical professionals.

"This will go a long way toward getting rid of that unfair, salacious image," said Corby Zeren of Annapolis.

Bachman's bill would require massage establishments, managers and technicians that fall under the proposed legislation to be licensed by the Department of Inspections and Permits.

It would make it illegal for masseuses to work on members of the opposite sex or to touch "erogenous areas," and would require clients to cover these parts of the body during the massage.

The legislation requires masseuses and managers of massage operations to have at least 200 hours of training from a nationally recognized institution, although students and masseuses operating out of residences want the council to let people with less training practice massage. The bill exempts medical professionals.

In other action Monday night, the County Council:

* Listened to testimony from hotel managers that a bill intended to catch drug dealers operating out of area hotels would give police authority to invade the privacy of guests.

The bill, proposed by County Executive Robert R. Neall at the request of police, provoked heated debated between hotel managers and county officials and among County Council members themselves.

County officials and hotel managers will meet to iron out differences. The council will take up the bill again Oct. 7.

The bill would require innkeepers to keep records of the dates and times of guests' arrival and checkout, their room numbers, addresses and license plate numbers and states. It would require them tokeep a record of phone calls made from the hotel and individual rooms.

Hotel managers would have to give that information to police onrequest and to keep records of the information for three years.

Sgt. Ronald Bateman and Assistant County Attorney Gail Watson said thebill would save them the time of obtaining warrants to get information from hotel managers, whom they said have been reluctant to give them information on guests.

Watson said other counties have similar laws. "We're the only county that protects this information," she said.

"Giving these records to officers at any time, without subpoena, opens Pandora's box," said Tom Negri, manager of the Loews Annapolis Hotel and president of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau. "It allows officers to checkphone calls at any time, and we have a problem with that."

Councilman Edward Middlebrooks, D-Severn, agreed with Negri, while council members Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, and Carl "Dutch" Holland, R-Pasadena, argued that the bill wasn't an invasion of privacy.

* Approved a bill proposedby Bachman that will prevent mobile home park owners from charging tenants retroactive security deposits.

The owners of three of the county's 26 trailer parks recently began charging security deposits, even for longtime residents. Tenant advocates said the practice is unfair and hits senior citizens and single mothers especially hard.

Bachman's bill will protect longtime residents in the county's trailerparks. About 100 mobile home park residents applauded the bill's passage.

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