Woodstock slaps 90-day moratorium on massage licenses

Citing incidents where massage operators violated local codes for possibly illicit purposes, the Woodstock City Council has imposed a 90-day moratorium on issuing new licenses for massage therapists, businesses and related activities.

The moratorium, in effect until Nov. 13, will give city staff time to review land use requirements and zoning ordinances and propose revisions, according to an ordinance approved by the council.

The measure describes four massage therapy establishments cited for such violations as failure to have a manager on the premises, and personnel working without state or city licenses. Many massage operators apparently are willing to flout the law, and “no significant penalties appear to exist” to dissuade them, the ordinance says.

Exceptions to the moratorium would be made for existing businesses seeking to hire new therapists, a therapist seeking work at a spa with only a small area dedicated to massage therapy, or a therapist seeking to operate under the supervision of a state-licensed physician or chiropractor.