In the wake of a pair of sting operations last fall revealing that employees at an Ogden Avenue massage parlor allegedly exchanged sex acts for cash, Brookfield trustees on Jan. 10 directed the village’s Planning and Zoning Commission to consider amending the zoning code to make massage business owners go through a formal hearing before they can open.
The zoning code as written includes massage therapy businesses alongside physicians and dentist office, allowing them to operate “by right” in all of the village’s commercial districts. Local officials appear to want the Planning and Zoning Commission to recommend a code amendment that would make any future massage therapy businesses owner obtain a special use permit.
Special use applications are subject to a public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission, during which commissioners can recommend approving such a use as well as conditions for obtaining that permission.
Businesses already operating in the village would be grandfathered in and not be subject to a special use hearing process.
During the special use permit process, staff and police could research prospective businesses and their owners to see if they have run afoul of the law elsewhere or have a history of nuisance complaints.
In addition to vetting by the Planning and Zoning Commission, anyone wishing to open a massage therapy business in Brookfield would also need to appear before the village board, which would either approve or deny the special use permit.
“Coming to speak before not only the Planning and Zoning Commission but before the [village] board, the application fee – it’s just an extra process that would be required,” said Community Development Director Emily Egan, who brought the matter to the village board during its Jan. 10 committee of the whole meeting.
“The zoning code is just one more tool in the toolbox,” Egan added. “There are other tools that the police department have been using very successfully to work on these kinds of issues. If the [zoning] tool is available, it’s staff’s opinion that we use to review, research and at least consider if this is something the board would like to move forward with.”
Last fall, Brookfield police in conjunction with investigators from the Cook County Vice Squad’s Special Victims Unit targeted a business called Jin Massage, now closed, at 9210 Ogden Ave.
Online advertisements reportedly had indicated the business might have been offering sexual favors in exchange for cash. According to police reports obtained by the Landmark through a public records request, investigators arranged three different sting operations in July, September and November of 2021 at Jin Massage.
During the stings executed on Sept. 8 and Nov. 9, police reported that two different employees agreed to perform a sex act in exchange for cash. In both instances, the employees, both women in their 50s, and the business owner, a 52-year-old Chicago woman, were cited for operating a sexually oriented business without a license, for engaging in prohibited conduct and for operating a house of ill fame.
Following the November sting, Jin Massage closed its doors. Responding to a resident complaint that the business was still being advertised on the internet, Brookfield police reported on Dec. 30 that the storefront was empty and furniture gone.
In response to a question by Trustee Jennifer Hendricks asking whether the village could impose conditions for a special use resulting in revocation of that special use if village ordinances are violated, Village Attorney Adam Durkin said that would need additional research.
The Planning and Zoning Commission is slated to discuss the matter and possibly make a recommended zoning code amendment at its meeting on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers of the Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.
This article has been changed to correct the first name of the village’s attorney and to clarify Trustee Jennifer Hendricks’ question regarding tying a special use permit to a condition prohibiting violations of village ordinances.