Columbia County Commissioners and local massage therapists have finally come to an agreement on a new ordinance.
We first told you about this story back in April when commissioners first drafted the original ordinance, hoping to seek out illegal massage practices.
Some business owners felt the new regulations were unfair, but on Tuesday night they came to a mutual understanding.
Ordinance 16-07- better known as the massage therapy ordinance- Has definitely been a work in progress.
“When all of this started there were a lot of things in the ordinance that we didn’t feel like we could live with,” Leigh Ann Keel said.
Leigh Ann Keel has been at the meetings from the beginning. She owns Augusta School of Massage and Tuscany Spa.
The original ordinance included things like; a mandatory 2 mile radius between each operation, a limit on the hours therapists can work and required financial and bank statements.
All of these requirements have been tossed out the window in this new ordinance.
“We basically had to remove the existing ordinance as it stood, and recreate a new one that included what we call an operator’s license, which will basically give each establishment that is performing massage therapy, a license that they will have to get it every year,” Vice Chairman, Trey Allen said.
The only other requirement is a background check and minimal fee.
“Well I feel really good about the final product. I think that we did a great job getting together between the commission and staff and the therapists themselves working together to come up with an ordinance that everybody is happy with,” Allen continued.
“The commissioners were great and they worked with us,” Keel said.
Trey Allen says they’re still accomplishing what they set out to, which is find the illegitimate massage therapists.
“This is something local that they can point to and they can say it affects them directly, that they’re following the county rules the county regulations,” he explained.
Allen says this shows that the commission can and will work with the public to get the best possible ordinance.
“The final product, I think, is far better than the original ordinance that we just grew out organically through staff and through the commission,” Allen explained.