Massage parlors that offer illegal sexual services could be shut down as “public nuisances” under a new Sandy Springs city ordinance in the works.

At the Feb. 2 City Council meeting, City Attorney Wendell Willard said that certain problem massage parlors and spas continue illegal business by changing owners after police crackdowns. “Even though you stop one [operator], here comes another,” he said.

The new “public nuisance” declaration would allow the city “to go after not only the business owner, but also the property owner,” he said. That would mean a court order permanently barring the massage or spa business on the site. Willard called it “another tool in the belt of the city…to stop this unlawful activity.”

City Councilman Ken Dishman said he worked with Assistant City Attorney Cecil McLendon on the proposed ordinance change after hearing complaints from constituents about certain businesses in the northern section of the city. Willard said the specific “public nuisance” ordinance change came from Scott Bergthold, a Tennessee attorney specializing in municipal laws limiting sexually oriented businesses. Bergthold helped Sandy Springs draft other adult business codes, some of which have sparked pending lawsuits accusing the city of unconstitutional infringement of civil liberties.

Councilmen John Paulson and Gabriel Sterling wanted assurances that any property owner would receive due process in the court system. Willard said the city’s “public nuisance” declaration could come only after repeated criminal citations and would have to be approved by a court, which would issue any closure order.

The ordinance was discussed in the council’s work session and was not voted on. City attorneys will draft a final proposal and return to the council later for a vote.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

3 replies on “Sandy Springs considers ‘public nuisance’ law to crack down on massage parlors”

  1. Wow, if only the City Attorney and Council would spend as much time concentrating on FIXING the abysmal schools and p r o s e c u t i n g the gangs that are prevalent within them, I would be happy.

    I don’t feel much threat from the massage parlors but I am, DAILY, sad about what you all expect us to do with our CHILDREN!!!!

    I know Willard is an old curmudgeon and, Sterling has no children and “doesn’t care” – even telling constituents to “move to DeKalb County…” But, just d a m n ! Don’t you all have any shame for spending your (actually that’s o u r) time on crap – like this?

    Massage “parlors” are NOT the scourge or nuisance of Sandy Springs … THE SCHOOLS … and weak, detached, pathetic, and apathetic council members – like Sterling – ARE !

    What can you do FOR THE PEOPLE boys ??? One day wont just one of you awake and DO s o m e t h i n g for us ??

  2. Do you know anything about our schools?
    First Sandy Springs DOESN’T OPERATE THE SCHOOLS. They are not among Sandy Springs’ governmental responsibility. Eliminating the opportunity to operate illegally and upholding community standards are. It is proven that “policing” small things creates a better environment for all the citizens.
    Second, the 2 public high schools in Sandy Springs are both in the top ten in Fulton County and are ranked very high in the state and the nation.

  3. Hey Mark, A little unfairly harsh on Sterling and Wendell but agree that there are about 100 things more productive the city could pay attention to that matter like dealing with gang activity or slowing down all those dangerous cut through commuters speeding through residential neighborhoods with impunity. The city built all the beautiful sidewalks and folks are afraid to walk on them because the Sandy Springs police have abdicated their responsibility to enforce speeding laws anywhere except on 400 and 285. And frankly who cares if folks are going 80 on 400? It’s the 60 on Abernathy that scares the crap out of me. Slow folks down or someone is going to die and there will be no “happy endings.”

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