West BloomfieldJuly 5, 2012
Proposal could make massage permit process less invasive
By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer
WEST BLOOMFIELD — Massage therapists who work in the township may no longer have to share their weight, fingerprints or other personal information with the township in order to practice their trade.
The Board of Trustees unanimously introduced an ordinance amendment June 18 that would change the township code and strike some of the required information on its massage permit application. The proposal will be up for adoption at a later meeting.
Township Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste said she agrees with the amendment idea in order to help the business community meet the public’s demand for massage therapy. She said the current rules are costly and discouraging for some people who wish to practice in West Bloomfield as therapists.
In April, Massage Envy regional manager Brian Quinn asked the board to review its ordinance because he said it makes therapists undergo expensive blood testing for diseases that aren’t contagious through normal massage treatment.
As it stands, the township’s permit application requires assurance from a doctor that the applicant is free from tuberculosis, HIV, herpes, chlamydia, hepatitis and other diseases.
Ureste said consumer demand has shifted to seek massage services for therapeutic reasons and not illicit, sexual ones.
“The massage establishments have drastically changed over the years,” she said. “I think a lot of people that frequently visit a massage clinic are there for working out aches and pain.”
During the June 18 meeting, township board officials said the amended code would work in conjunction with state licensing guidelines, but the township’s altered applications would omit requirements to hand over such items as fingerprints, reference letters and a medical certificate showing clearance for the communicable diseases.
Officials also struck a part that asks therapists for their weight, and the clerk wanted to alter the permit cycle to have permits expire every April instead of at the end of the year.
However, Trustee Steven Kaplan wanted a few qualifications to be in the ordinance. He added language to prevent therapists in good standing from driving with a suspended license, fleeing and eluding police or providing false identification to a police officer.
Treasurer Teri Weingarden was happier with the amended ordinance. “I personally found (the original) quite offensive and invasive and … extremely expensive,” she said. “I think this is a much more fair ordinance.”
Ureste said after the meeting that the township board suggested other proposed changes in order to be thorough and avoid having to go back to the ordinance again.
“If you’re going to amend the ordinance and you’re going to take the time and spend the money ... you want to cover all aspects,” she said. “Every time you call the attorney, it costs money, so if we’re going to do an ordinance amendment, we’re certainly going to bring all that ordinance up to date.”
To learn more about West Bloomfield’s massage ordinance or to see the massage permit application, visit www.wbtwp.com.
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