Illicit activity complaints at Nederland massage parlors lead to zoning questions, officials say

Published 6:06 pm Monday, November 14, 2022

NEDERLAND — Nederland Police have received complaints of illicit activity occurring at several massage establishments around the city.

“We’re looking into that,” Police Chief Gary Porter told city council members Monday.

“This is a nationwide trend where massage establishments are a haven for labor trafficking, human trafficking and other nefarious deeds. We’re just trying to get ahead of the game on this, so we’re not having a problem like that.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Porter was speaking in favor of a proposed zoning change that would reduce the locations such establishments can operate within Nederland city limits.

“Our new regulations are reasonable, and I would think any legitimate massage establishment would like to see them in place in order to keep the people who are not legitimate out,” Porter said.

At its previous city council meeting, City Manager Chris Duque said Nederland adopted an ordinance that puts in place tougher requirements and regulations for operation.

City leaders said it is also necessary to amend the zoning regulations for massage establishments and massage therapists. They can currently operate in all commercial and industrial zones.

The proposed change would limit such businesses to the industrial zones.

They would be permitted in highway commercial via a specific use permit, which requires city council-approval and is subject to additional terms and requirements.

A certificate of occupancy could also be revoked if any regulations are violated.

Councilman Talmadge Austin asked what would happen to existing massage establishments if the city council approves the new zoning.

Duque said existing businesses would be allowed to operate because they are grandfathered into the city.

If they make any changes to the business, they would have to conform to the new regulations. The certificate of occupancy could also be revoked if they violate regulations adopted this year.

No action was taken Monday on the proposed ordinance. A public comment period seeking input from the audience closed without anyone speaking.

The proposed zoning change will be voted on at a later city council meeting.