PLAINSBORO: Township sets strict guidelines for massage parlor operators


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By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
PLAINSBORO — Clamping down on the use of massage parlors as a front for prostitution, Township Committee has approved an ordinance that sets strict guidelines for would-be operators of massage parlors.
Under the ordinance approved by Township Committee at its April 13 meeting, all massage parlors, bodywork and somatic therapy businesses that want to open up shop in the township must get a license from the Municipal Clerk’s Office.
The ordinance makes it clear that owners or managers of massage parlors shall not permit illicit behavior in their businesses, such as prostitution, indecency and obscenity. This includes the sale, “uttering or exposing and public communication of obscene material,” the ordinance said.
“The township wants to take appropriate steps, like other towns have, to minimize the illegal operation and activities of massage parlors throughout the township,” said Anthony Cancro, the township administrator.
Within the past year, there have been two instances of massage parlors or similar businesses being used as covers for prostitution in Plainsboro Township.
In September 2015, police charged a man with conspiracy to promote prostitution and a woman with promoting prostitution. A second woman was charged with engaging in prostitution when police raided the Orange Sun Therapy business at the Office Center on Plainsboro Road.
Last month, the owner of J&J Natural Care LLC was charged with promoting prostitution and two women in the massage parlor were each charged with engaging in prostitution, according to the Plainsboro Police Department and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
Meanwhile, under the new ordinance, a massage parlor license would be valid for three years. All therapists must be licensed by the State of New Jersey. Non-licensed therapists are forbidden from administering massages, bodywork or somatic therapies in Plainsboro Township.
The ordinance also makes it clear that therapists, employees or operators may not touch or massage a client’s genital area. Those areas of the client’s body also must be covered by a towel, cloth or undergarments.
Applicants for a massage parlor license must provide the name and home address of all therapists and employees, as well as the name and home address of the manager or person in charge of the massage parlor. The applicant also must state that all therapists are licensed.
The ordinance also states that applicants are subject to a general background check — including whether they have operated similar businesses — and a criminal background check. Misdemeanor traffic violations do not count in the criminal background check by the Police Department.
The Chief of Police can disapprove an application if an investigation into the applicant’s background shows that the applicant’s business professionalism is unsatisfactory, and that issuing a license “would present a danger to the public health, safety and welfare.”
If a license is issued, it may be revoked if the applicant has misrepresented any information or made a false statement in the application for a license. A conviction for keeping a house of prostitution or offenses involving sexual misconduct are among the reasons that a license can be revoked.
The Chief of Police may close the business immediately if it is found that an unlicensed therapist is offering massages, bodywork or somatic therapies.
Unsanitary or unsafe conditions at the business also are grounds for closing the business. All massage parlors must be inspected by the township to ensure that they comply with state and township codes, including the Uniform Construction Code and applicable health codes. 

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