Boro spa remains shuttered
The Sunshine Oriental Health Spa in Jenkintown is no longer permitted to operate.
The ruling was announced Tuesday when the Jenkintown Borough Zoning and Hearing Board unanimously decided to uphold the borough’s revocation of the York Road spa’s use and occupancy permit.
Attorney Mark Schaffer, who represented spa owner John Connelly, said they plan to appeal the ruling at the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.
Jenkintown Borough Solicitor Sean Kilkenny said he will continue to fight the spa until advised otherwise.
Director of Code Enforcement George Locke said he revoked the spa’s use and occupancy permit in June after the borough learned that spa was in violation of a condition of the permit, which it has held since 1994.
The condition held there could be no criminal convictions at the business under the Pennsylvania Crime Code, Locke said, and he then read a letter from the Montgomery County Detectives Bureau outlining charges of prostitution that have been levied against the spa over the past seven years.
According to the letter, a woman was arrested in 2005 and convicted of prostitution at the spa. Officials seized $4,289 in cash and 16 condoms at the establishment at the time of her arrest.
In 2008 another female employee was charged with
prostitution, although she was convicted only disorderly conduct, and in 2011, two women were charged with prostitution after two undercover state troopers paid them $100 each to engage in sexual intercourse. The women were arrested and $3,914 in cash was seized, along with condoms and security equipment. They were later convicted of disorderly conduct, the letter states.
Schaffer asked Locke, whom he thought the criminal convictions under the crime code applied to, and Locke replied he believed it applied to the business owners and property owners.
However, Connelly and property owner Joel Zisholtz maintained they were not convicted of any crimes related to the spa.
Jenkintown police Chief Albert DiValentino testified that he found advertisements for the spa online that contained suggestive content.
“The advertisements concerned me,” DiValentino said. “The [comments leftz were explicit.”
Connelly testified that he has been leasing the property at 111 York Road from owners Joel and Lois Zisholtz for 18 years, and that he had two employees at the business — a maintenance man and a cleaning lady.
The spa’s message therapists, whom he referred to as his “customers” and “attendants,” rented the space from him, he said, and said the spa hours were from 10 to 2 a.m. to accommodate the schedules of the therapists’ clients.
Connelly said he has rules that the attendants have to abide by.
“No one under the age of 21 is allowed, there can be no alcohol or drugs, no inappropriate sexual activity and the therapist must be an American citizen or have a valid working visa,” he said.
Some of the attendants have not followed the rules, however, and that he had to fire therapists in the past for being late to work and for stealing money from the other therapists, Connelly said.
“They are adults and honorable people,” he said. “I don’t look for the bad in people … [butz if they don’t follow the rules they are done.”
Joel Zisholtz testified that he has owned 111 York Road since 1982 and said the only violation notice he has received was the one issued by Locke for the 2011 spa arrests.
When Kilkenny asked Zisholtz if he knew of any other illegal activity at the spa, he said he was aware only of the incident from 2005.
“Somewhere in the last 10 years, I knew there was some kind of police raid,” he said.
The board’s ruling had mixed reviews from meeting attendees.
A spa employee who asked not t o be identified said she would sue the borough and the individual who posted a sign allegedly containing a racial slur on the spa’s door.
“I’m thrilled,” said Jenkintown resident Steven Moriconi. “Being two houses away from the [spaz I’m glad that, for now, a stop has been put to it.”
The Rev. Miriam Burnett, pastor of New Bethel African Methodist Church, moderates the forum during the “Bridging the Communities” meeting Monday at the North Penn VFW Post 676.