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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local UPDATED: Carolina Beach Council Approves Tattoo Studios By Conditional Use Permit

UPDATED: Carolina Beach Council Approves Tattoo Studios By Conditional Use Permit

UPDATED: January 8th, 2013: You read it here first: The Carolina Beach Town Council approved allowing tattoo studios in the Highway Business District (Lake Park Blvd) at their meeting tonight, January 8th. The Council voted three to two in favor of permitting them as a Conditional Use. New studios will have to first obtain a Conditional Use Permit and meet certain conditions including hours of operation from 8AM to 9PM and a certain distance from residential districts. Those permits are reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission and then by the Town Council who ultimately approves or denies issuing a permit. That means next month the Planning Commission could hear a request for a conditional use permit for a tattoo studio and the following month the Council would consider approving that permit. Mayor Bob Lewis and Council members Jody Smith and Steve Shuttleworth voted in favor. Council members Tom Bridges and Sarah Freide voted no. Shuttleworth initiated the vote in favor of allowing them by permit. It was a long public hearing with numerous people speaking for and against tattoo studios being allowed.

Managing Editor
Jan. 2, 2013

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council will hold a public hearing and consider a request to allow body piercing and tattoo studios in the HB Highway Business district on Lake Park Blvd at their Tuesday January 8, meeting.
The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission voted four to three at their December 13, meeting to recommend the Town Council not approve the rezoning request.
According to Planning Director Ed Parvin, Dixon Broadfoot is requesting to allow body piercing and tattoo studios in that district. Currently they are not permitted anywhere 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 last month, "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.
He 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.
Following the meeting, Broadfoot explained the he wants to offer a service to the community that will implement safe regulations for tattooing in Carolina Beach providing a healthy and safe environment through a governed service.
Broadfoot explained that will bring new clientele and revenue while increasing revenues for other area merchants.
He explained, "Much of Carolina Beach's revenue is generated from tourism, this will keep tourists on the Island giving them a full service city by keeping those from venturing out to other surrounding cities for the same service.
He said presently the Town doesn't permit tattooing in it's code of ordinances and, "This creates an opportunity for black market services allowing tattoos to be performed illegally which is a loss of revenue and creates extreme health hazards for the community" due to lack of state regulated services.
Broadfoot said if the Town Council doesn't wish to permit the use "by-right" in Town, it would be in their best interest to adopt the change allowing it to be a conditional-use to provide reputable professionals to offer such services.
A conditional use permit process requires review by the Planning Commission and final approval by the Town Council on an individual basis for new businesses.
Broadfoot said the statement that, "We don't want these kinds of people in our family oriented beach" and the dislike for tattoo shops is entirely wrong and improper.
He explained, "Define kind of people. Do you mean the common working folk that make up the local economy or people with expendable income to put back revenue into the local economy. Being in the business for over 18 years, there is no stereotype of person that gets tattooed, they are expensive and those with good paying jobs, not so much criminals can afford them; teachers, doctors, lawyer, fathers, mothers and the list goes on. Everyone knows someone with a tattoo; tattoos do not create or define criminals. If you want to talk family, nothing says family more than a memorial tattoo for a loved one that has passed or surviving breast cancer ribbon for a friend or family member."
Broadfoot explained, "Nothing says family like a tattoo that praises your father or mother in a traditional tribute tattoo. Nothing says family more than Jimbo's Breakfast House on the corner of College and Oleander, which I leased the building next to his for over 10 years and Jimbo always felt it was an asset to his restaurant. Tattoos are an art form and a positive expression. They are now being offered in family malls throughout the United States."
He explained, "You can go to family festivals to get temporary tattoos whether it's at the boardwalk or other local attractions and even get temporary tattoos awarded for good grades at school. We don't pass out fake cigarettes but yet we have the right to go buy a pack of cigarettes, what does this teach our children? I don't like Subway so I don't go there, I don't smoke cigarettes so I don't go to smoke shops."
Broadfoot explained, "Are you aware at this family oriented beach that they sale "water pipes", alcohol, cigarettes and hand guns which can all be transferred to a minor but the tattoo only goes to the individual. Many tattoo shops offer more than just tattoos; such as temporary tattoos for the kids, cool baby clothes for newborns, trendy piercing for all ages and offer wall art for the collector."
On the topic of health Broadfoot explained, "No one is more concerned about the health issue than I am. I am a father with two children and being in the business for over 18 years has made me extremely aware of the precautions necessary. Tattoos are highly regulated by the state and New Hanover County. We undergo strict inspections and certifications, very similar to a restaurant and/or hair salon. Due to the fact that tattoos are growing in popularity there should be huge concern of the growing epidemic of illegal tattoos that are being done on Carolina Beach because the city does not presently provide another option at this time. This has become an epidemic and if not provided people will and have been doing them without control and regulation. Bringing a government regulated tattoo studio will provide an opportunity to get a good, clean, sterile tattoo. Give your vacationers and local residents this option."
On the topic of concerns over lowering property values, Broadfoot explained, "If that were the case... I would not have invested personally into the local economy by purchasing multiple properties in Carolina Beach this year. I see potential growth in Carolina Beach and small businesses allow this expansion. The tattoo business is a multibillion-dollar business, in case your not aware there must be 10 different types of televised shows broadcasted currently. The tattoo industry has evolved more into a specialized art gallery and boutique. Tattoos are not cheap, thus lots of revenue from the tattoo shops are put back into the facilities and upgrades thus allowing storefronts to become more appealing to acquire more customers than many other businesses. From a business aspect I would not have invested if I thought it would bring down my own property values. Tattoo artist and business owners strive more than ever to establish more of an upscale studio for appealing to a more prominent clientele. They are now in your local malls and the growing trend are moving more upscale everyday. I see this being a positive impact not a negative. Tattoo shops offer other trends as well such as clothing, local jewelry and local art. With my personal vested interest I am not in business to lose money and believe Carolina Beach as a whole will benefit."
Broadfoot said tattooing is simply, "Art on skin, a form of expression, your body is your temple, have you ever seen a temple that wasn't decorated? Sure in the past we have all seen our share of bad tattoos, the tattoo art has evolved and changed since your grandfathers WWII "type" tattoo. The art is quite frankly amazing and with your body as your canvass to display and enjoy for many years to come, a tattoo is lifetime enjoyment and a freedom of expression. Drawing on skin doesn't create a bad person."
The Council will hold a public hearing and consider the rezoning request at their January 8, meeting at 6:30PM at Town Hall.

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