To Fight Human Trafficking, Police in Texas Town Endorse Zoning Restrictions on Massage Parlors
Police in Nederland, Texas, are supporting the adoption of a zoning ordinance restricting massage parlors to industrial areas of town as a means of fighting human trafficking.
“This is a nationwide trend where massage establishments are a haven for labor trafficking, human trafficking and other nefarious deeds,” Nederland Police Chief Gary Porter said at a Monday City Council meeting, Port Arthur News reports. “We’re just trying to get ahead of the game on this, so we’re not having a problem like that.”
The council is currently considering a new ordinance that would restrict new massage parlors to the small area of the town zoned for industrial uses. These businesses could also operate in “highway retail” zones, but only if they received a special use permit.
If passed, these rules would be more restrictive than current regulations that allow massage parlors to operate in commercial and industrial zones without the need for a special use permit, reports Port Arthur News.
Nederland City Manager Christopher Duque tells Reason in an email that the city has an estimated five to seven existing massage parlors. He says he’s not sure how many would be made nonconforming by the ordinance being considered by the council.
Existing nonconforming businesses would be allowed to stay open. But their owners would be prohibited from structurally altering or expanding their buildings. If they sell the business, the next owner wouldn’t be able to operate a massage parlor at the same location.
No business would be entitled to a special use permit either; the City Council has the discretion to reject or c
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