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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Carolina Beach Planning Commission Votes Against Tattoo, Body Piercing Studios

Carolina Beach Planning Commission Votes Against Tattoo, Body Piercing Studios

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission voted four to three at their December 13, meeting to recommend the Town Council not approve a rezoning request to allow body piercing and tattoo studios in the Highway Business District on Lake Park Blvd.
According to Planning Director Ed Parvin, Dixon Broadfoot is requesting to allow body piercing and tattoo studios in the HB district. Currently they are not permitted in Carolina Beach. Parvin said the Town has denied previous requests for this type of business-use.
Parvin pointed to meetings in 1995 and 2002. He explained, "Based on those discussions... the tattoo studios and body piercing was not considered in keeping with a family oriented boardwalk and Central Business District (CBD). Historically the Town has wanted the niche of the CBD to be retail shopping, restaurants, entertainment and some services oriented to the beach."
Parvin explained to the Planning Commission in a memo earlier this week, "This issue has been reviewed with Mr. Broadfoot and he agrees that the HB district would be better suited for body piercing and tattoo studios."
He explained, "In some communities these uses are prevalent in poor areas and associated with crime and health issues. For that reason many town's are hesitant to open up allowances for these activities. However, most states have already mitigated these concerns by adopting strict health guidelines and zoning laws. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Health Division, has stringent health regulations in place as well as laws preventing minors from receiving tattoos."
Parvin explained, "Local governments are tasked with determining whether they want the use in their community and where they think the uses would be best located. Limitations can be placed on these uses similar to how Town Council has limited other uses that are often part of a community but not wanted in prevalence due to potential negative impacts" such as electronic gaming operations.
Parvin explained the Planning Department recommends if the Town would like to consider allowances for tattoo studios and body piercing then zoning regulations could be added to mitigate potential negatives with the uses. He explained, "Distance requirements are an effective way to create limits that the Town has utilized with electronic gaming operations, adult entertainment and also at one time for bars."
He explained, "Also, similar to restaurants, staff has inserted a requirement that a conditional use permit shall be required if alcohol was proposed to be served. Additional regulations could be inserted in the proposed ordinance to place further limits on the use if Town Council wishes."
Parvin added, "Finally the Town may want to consider setting a privilege license fee associated with this use. Right now the uses are not specified so they would fall under gross receipts. For example, Winston Salem and Surf City both set $1,000" for fee.
Broadfoot recently purchased a building on Lake Park Blvd and said, "I think it would benefit the city... so people aren't doing it behind closed doors illegally" and can get tattoos in a safe, clean regulated location. He said no alcohol will be present.
The New Hanover County Health Department inspects such operations. Broadfoot said, "In the 16 years I've owned shops and 18 years I've been tattooing, I've never had a problem."
Ken Horne, owner of Pleasure Island Insurance and a resident said, "If I wanted a tattoo I could go to Wilmington and get one... I don't have a problem with tattoos. I have a problem with a tattoo business in a community that we are really trying to develop as family oriented. I'm not real sure that fits that description."
He said, "In my opinion you are going to draw a clientele that I don't really think is coming to enjoy the facilities of the beach."
Horne's business is located in the Pleasure Island Plaza where Broadfoot wants to open. Horne said other business owners in that plaza do not favor the request.
Jim Spicuzza - local real estate agent and developer -  spoke in favor of Broadfoot's request saying he's known Broadfoot for 20 years and, "He's a smart, articulate and very clean cut young family man who is changing the image of his industry."
Spicuzza said he's sold properties to Broadfoot over the years and has always been an outstanding property owner. He said, "His business is incredibly regulated and demands extensive training, cleanliness and routine inspections by the health department. His clients include doctors, lawyers, business owners, teachers, men and women. His business even includes working with doctor referral patients to reconstruct eyebrows with permanent eyeliner. I believe that's an incredible service for those that need his help because of accidents, scaring or burns."
He said the tattoo business has received a bad reputation which it has outgrown.
Commissioner Brett Keeler said, "We've gone this far without having tattoo parlors and body piercing. If we open that up, are we opening up a Pandora's Box."
Commissioner Tom Bridges said his son had a tattoo for years before they found out. He said, "Obviously it's changed and is more popular than a long time ago. It's still the concern of the perception because the perception is still pervasive to a lot of people that come to our beach and we don't want to affect that. I have no problem with what your doing. If it was just you approving, that's one thing, but because we are opening that whole Pandora's Box that makes it a much tougher decision."
Commissioner Sarah Efird said it's a preference for the individual and will not affect the Town as a whole.
Many commissioners said they don't have a problem with people who have tattoos, but with the perception of tattoo shops.
Bridges said limiting the number or impact on the community would help.
The Council voted four to three to recommend Council deny the request at their January 8th, meeting.
The Council will hold a public hearing on the request for rezoning before making a final decision.

Photo: AZ Dept. of Health Services Director's Blog