Members of the St. Clair Planning and Zoning Board liked how a fellow Franklin County city handled putting together its updated massage establishment ordinance, so they will recommend a similar law to the board of aldermen in the near future.

In fact, other than some minor changes, the city planners recommended adopting the exact same ordinance that the city of Washington already has in place.

An updated ordinance will be presented to the board of aldermen at a later date. It does not appear on the aldermen’s March 18 agenda.

Therapeutic message businesses within the St. Clair city limits have been a concern of City Inspector Jeremy Crowe for quite a while, but until recently he said he has not had the opportunity to address and remedy the situation.

Currently, according to St. Clair’s ordinance that was adopted in 1979, no massage business can operate within 500 feet of a church, school, daycare center, park, government building, any business retaining a liquor or beer license or any residential area. Those restrictions place the three current massage establishments in violation.

“Under our ordinance now, if I understand it correctly, massage establishments that are operating here are not adhering to the law,” planning and zoning board Chairman Myrna Turner said. “So we’re here trying to upgrade our ordinance.”

Discussion centered on the desire for the city to keep any kind of “illegal” or “adult” massage operations out, but allow licensed therapeutic massage businesses in.

“We want the good stuff, not the bad stuff,” Crowe said.

Lisa Hinton, owner of New U Salon, 260 W. Gravois Ave., one of the three therapeutic massage businesses in the city, attended the planning meeting.

She said the city’s ordinance needs to be updated because the business means “something totally different now than it did in 1979.”

Board members agreed.

City Attorney Kurt Voss said the “easy way out” would be for the St. Clair planners to recommend adoption of an amendment similar to what Washington did.

Washington’s rules and regulations state that a massage business is “any place of business in which massage therapy is practiced.” A massage therapist is someone who is “trained, experienced and licensed in massage therapy and who holds a current, valid license to practice massage therapy.”

The license must be obtained by the state of Missouri Board of Therapeutic Massage. Since that is a requirement at the state level, Voss said, municipalities do not need to be concerned about the same thing locally.

As far as locations, Washington’s ordinance states that “no massage establishment shall be located within any residential zoning district.” It does not elaborate further.

At the end of the discussion, city planner and Ward 2 Alderman Travis Dierker said that St. Clair “should proceed forward like the city of Washington.”

He then made a motion to proceed and adjust the city’s current ordinance — No. 838 — for massage establishments to reflect Washington’s and only allow those who have obtained a state license to operate within the city.

“That should take care of it,” Voss said.

The only difference will be the annual license fee requirement of $50.

The planners originally were scheduled to discuss massage establishments in February, but a lack of a quorum canceled that meeting.

Current Law

Crowe told The Missourian that “the existing ordinance, from my understanding was designed around an ‘adult massage parlor’ that had come into town years ago. At the time the ordinance was adopted, massage therapy was not very prevalent and from my understanding was not regulated by the state.”

That is why he believed the 500-foot language was part of the ordinance.

Besides New U Salon, the other two massage establishments in the city are Life’s Journey Massage, 400 N. Commercial Ave., Suite B; and St. Clair Physical Therapy, 1135 N. Commercial Ave.

Before the planning and zoning meeting, Crowe emphasized he has not had questions, problems or concerns with the current businesses, but instead with the current ordinance.