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Updated Message from the City

Post Date:01/30/2018 3:18 PM

UPDATE (Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 at 4:30 p.m.)

Westerville Division of Police Search Massage Business

For immediate release: February 2, 2018

(Westerville, Ohio) –  The Westerville Division of Police (WPD) today executed a search warrant at 407 W. Main St operating as Crystal Asian Massage as part of an ongoing investigation into massage parlor operations in the city. The business has been under investigation since May 2017 while investigators looked into tips from anonymous sources.

Two females were detained for questioning and interviewed by members by the Salvation Army Recovery Team and Asian American Service representatives. 

The business remains under investigation. It is now closed due to property maintenance violations.

Crystal Asian Massage received its certificate of occupancy November 16, 2016. It has operated on the north end of Westerview Plaza.

“Crystal Asian Massage and other businesses alleged to not be operating within the boundaries of all applicable laws and regulations are and have been on our radar,” said Lt. Charles Chandler. “Today is the result of a long-term investigation and strategy to gather sufficient information and evidence leading to a search warrant.”

WPD’s search was conducted in partnership with several state and local agencies.

“In order to put illegal operations out of business, it takes a coordinated effort,” said Westerville Police Chief Joseph Morbitzer. “These investigations are intensive and extensive. That’s why we enlisted the assistance of the Attorney General’s Office; Franklin County Public Health, who evaluates health and safety issues; Westerville Code Enforcement, who address property maintenance issues; and the Police Department, who focus on criminal aspects of these investigations. On the legislative side, Westerville City Council has enacted stricter zoning ordinances addressing these types of businesses. At the state level, Representative Anne Gonzales has sponsored newly adopted legislation requiring stringent licensure for massage businesses.”

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Message from the City of Westerville

Post Date:01/30/2018 3:18 PM


The City of Westerville is aware of the proposed massage business advertising to open in Westerville Square. We have also been aware of other businesses operating in the City which offer massage services. 

The business advertising to open in Westerville Square is not open. The City has not issued an occupancy permit for this location, which is required by the Ohio Building Code before the applicant (business owner) may open their doors. Any business with an occupancy permit in the City is obligated to operate their business within the scope of their approvals and all applicable laws and ordinances. If a lapse in compliance with such laws or ordinances occurs, the City may rectify that with either code enforcement or law enforcement measures. Inspections from the City’s code enforcement staff would be required to ensure the applicant is operating as permitted.

The Westerville Square location has applied to operate as a spa. At this time, only a permit for interior construction (building permit) and a plumbing permit has been issued by the City.  
What can the City do?
City staff has monitored and addressed as many questions as we are able to answer at this time. Public concerns have been heard and the City will continue to use the tools available to address any business operating outside of its permitted use. 

The Westerville Division of Police and the Code Enforcement Division will monitor activity at establishments for compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. 

What the City cannot do:
Legitimate massage businesses have a legal right to operate as a matter of law in appropriately zoned locations, as long as they do not violate state or local laws.

Until there is evidence of a violation, the City has limitations on how and to what extent it can intrude on a business without probable cause.

What the City has done:
Westerville recently took measures to change and tighten zoning requirements for massage businesses. New massage businesses can only provide massage services when the person performing the massage is licensed by the state of Ohio. 

The ordinance goes into effect on February 16, 2018. This legislation is a tool communities can and have used to help ensure businesses only offer licensed massage services.

Continue the discussion with City leadership:
Westerville City Council welcomes your comments at public meetings. Council will next meet on Tuesday, February 6 at 7 p.m. at Westerville City Hall (21 S. State St). A dedicated time for Citizen’s Comments is on each meeting agenda. Speakers may address Council for three minutes at that time or contact the City Manager’s Office at (614) 901-6400.
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