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Wyandotte Business Owners Want City to Refund Them $10,000

A city ordinance requiring a shower at a shop performing massages is proving to be painful to some.

The owners of have a $10,000 question for city officials.

Why were they forced to install a shower in order to provide massage services at their facility when it opened a year ago, but new businesses opening now no longer have to do so?

The women said it's unfair and are asking to be reimbursed the $10,000 it cost them to install the shower, which they say has never been used.

“We’re disappointed," said Janette Crossman, one of three owners. "We’re angry. ... There is a lot of cost involved."

When , a city ordinance required businesses wanting to perform massages to have a tub or shower. Crossman said it was never explained to them why, but they reluctantly agreed to the stipulation because they wanted to open a business in Wyandotte.

"We looked at it as an investment," she said. "We had no idea at the beginning, it would cost us a total of $10,000, but we knew it assured us our spot as massage specialists in Wyandotte."

Crossman said she was "shocked and stunned" when she learned that city officials amended the city ordinance on Feb. 13 and took out the provision for a shower.

Councilwoman Sheri Sutherby-Fricke led the charge to change the ordinance, saying several business people wanted to open shops in Wyandotte, but complained that the ordinance was overly restrictive.

Crossman said it's great that city leaders were willing to accommodate the wishes of those new business owners, but questioned why that same consideration wasn't given to her company when they opened. Back then, Crossman said, the city enforced the ordinance so strictly that a city inspector nearly kept them from opening because the shower lip was an inch or so too high.

“It’s not a secret," she said. "Everyone’s laughing about it. … It’s a joke.”

Crossman said she has an easy solution for city officials.

“Give us back our $10,000 ... or make them put their shower in and we’ll be happy," she said.

Some city officials, however, are saying that Crossman isn't truly out $10,000 as her business received a $5,000 grant from the city's Downtown Development Authority when it moved from Southgate to Wyandotte in 2010.

To substantiate having spent the $5,000, the owners had to submit receipts showing how the money was spent. The receipts turned in were shower-related, leading some officials to question why reimbursement is now being sought.

Crossman said she offered to turn in any number of receipts to show how the $5,000 was used, but that the former city employee who was handling the grant program back then said any receipt would do.

"I turned in the shower receipt because that’s what was handy," she said. "We didn’t come down here and ask for a grant for a shower. … It was to build our future here in Wyandottte.”

Mayor Joseph Peterson backed up Crossman, saying the grant program used to have "so many loopholes" but that the true purpose of the $5,000 grant was for moving expenses.

“That was a push to bring new businesses in," Peterson said.

City Attorney William Look said city officials are within their right to amend city ordinances from time to time. In a letter to city officials, he is recommending that the request for reimbursement be denied.

"I am not aware of any legal authority which would permit the city, through the use of its general funds, to reimburse a business for work done to their property even if said work was a requirement to obtain a license," he wrote.

Instead, Look is recommending that the business owners approach the city's Downtown Development Authority to see if they are interested in repaying the money as a way to "improve the viability of businesses within the district."

Annette Crossman, who co-owns Total Health Foods, said she's not concerned where the money comes from, but said her business is deserving of reimbursement.

"We just want to be a part of Wyandotte," she said.

The issue is set to be discussed at Monday night's 7 p.m. council meeting. If the matter is referred to the DDA, that board meets at 5:30 p.m. April 10. Both meetings take place in the council chambers on the second floor of

Stephanie Keffer April 02, 2012 at 02:41 PM
$10,000 is a huge chunk of change but the contractor I was talking to told me $13,000. If they got reinbursed the money it's still going to go back into the business and back into Wyandotte so it's a win win to me. :/
Sue Czarnecki April 02, 2012 at 04:35 PM
There's no other way to say it .... these ladies got robbed by the city.
Diana Jackson April 02, 2012 at 05:59 PM
That is just silly. Laws change..accept it and move on.
Kimberley M. April 02, 2012 at 10:14 PM
It really stinks for Total Health Foods, however, would they be complaining if it were the opposite situation? Where they did not have to put in a shower but then the next massage parlor DID have to? Would they fight for same treatment then? I highly doubt they'd take a $10,000 bath (or shower in this case) to make another business feel better about the situation. Sorry about the bluntness of this comment, but I honestly think it's a little ludicrous to be making this much of a fuss about this.
Billy Bob April 03, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I don't understand this thinking... what if it were opposite? Why do people go there? Waste of time. The whole point is the city had an ordinance - which by design was to create an impediment for those that wanted to open a massage parlor - (Sex Shop). Well it worked we don't have any massage parlors. So someone comes along - pays to overcome this impediment because they want to offer a legitimate health practice. Then the next massage studio comes along and poof the ordinance gets not only modified by dropped all together? Yes there is some explaining to do... and if no reasonable explanations can be had - then a review of who knows who and how did this change should take place. In talking to some of our business owners - yes ordinances can be tough which is ok - but they need to be fair, consistent and not punitive. It really seems when a small business is trying to come to town - city inspectors and powers to be are more adversarial then welcoming, encouraging or mentoring to help folks around the hurdles. And when a new business does finally open up the Mayor and all the Powers to be should make a big deal of it and at least visit the place. I won't even get into the uneven, punitive "home" inspections.

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