By Bob Balgemann, REPORTER

The Village zoning code currently does not regulate massage parlors or shooting ranges. But that is about to change. While there currently are no such businesses in Machesney Park, there likely will come a time when applications are made to locate one or more of them in town. Officials want to be ready for that eventuality and are working up separate text amendments to the code, which cover both uses. The Village Board voted 6-0 with one absent on Oct. 17 to approve on first reading revised zoning codes containing the amendments. Second and final reading is due Nov. 7. Both proposals were on the consent agenda and neither was removed for discussion. So the Board with one motion approved both of them, along with other matters. Machesney Park has never had a massage parlor. But other municipalities have had them and, according to research by Village staff, experienced “issues” with the “legitimacy of the use and illegal actions by massage therapists.”

Here are some of the requirements enacted by other villages and cities:

* Loves Park allows massage parlors in a commercial retail zoning district. There are no special use requirements or zoning criteria regulating such establishments.

* Cherry Valley refers to massage parlors as “sexually-oriented businesses.” They are allowed only with a special use permit in the industrial and commercial zoning districts. Among other things, they are not allowed within 1,000 feet of places of worship, public or private elementary schools, residentially zoned property, public parks, day care facilities or other sexually-oriented businesses.

* Rockford also considers massage parlors as “sexually-oriented businesses” that must be reviewed administratively by staff. Restrictions are similar to those in Cherry Valley.

* Belvidere classifies massage parlors as “physical culture establishments,” which is part of a list of sexually-oriented land uses that are allowed with a special use in the heavy industrial zoning district. Restrictions are similar to Cherry Valley and Rockford.

The state currently has the authority to license massage parlors. The Village in turn has the authority to regulate the property and the establishment, through local zoning regulations. Machesney Park’s text amendment would require a special use permit, with such businesses only allowed in the commercial general zoning district. “Additionally, the application and use criteria will ensure safe, transparent and legitimate massage establishments going forward.” Restrictions are similar to those in effect in Cherry Valley and Rockford.

Shooting Ranges

Machesney Park’s proposed text amendment for shooting ranges states they would require a special use permit that has criteria “that will ensure a safe facility that protects the interests of surrounding properties.” Such uses only would be allowed the three light industrial zoning districts. Neither the city of Loves Park nor the city of Rockford addresses shooting ranges in their zoning codes, but they do require a special use permit and locating in an industrial zoning district. Village staff recommended approval of both text amendments.

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