Brighton City Council expresses support for zoning change to allow tattoo shop in downtown area

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By Crystal Nelson


BRIGHTON – City Council members expressed resounding support for changing the zoning of tattoo shops during a Jan. 22 study session.

The discussion was part of the Community Development Department’s annual review of the Table of Uses in the city’s Land Use and Development Code, which outlines what uses can go in what zone districts and by what process.

The issue dates back to September, when Working Class Inc. co-owner Ted Thompson asked council if they would consider a zoning change for tattoo shops so he could move the business to a better location in downtown. Thompson explained that when he went to renew his lease, the landlord told him it would not be renewed since the building is being sold.

During that meeting, council directed the Community Development Department to look at the zoning change during its next update of the city’s Table of Uses.

On Tuesday, Community Development Director Holly Prather asked council for direction on how they would like tattoo parlors to be zoned. She said tattoo shops are currently “conditional use only” in the light industrial and heavy industrial zones and are not use by right anywhere in the city.

Mayor Pro-Tem Wayne Scott said tattoo shops are “common place” now and doesn’t see much difference between them and beauty salons. He also said most young people he knows have tattoos or piercings.

“I don’t think it brings this rough crowd people think about, just regular people, and if they can survive in our business climate, more power to them,” he said, adding that from what he’s seen it’s been very difficult for tattoo shops to survive.

Council members Kirby Wallin and Lynn Baca said they would like tattoo shops to open up a little bit more to use by right.

“I think I would like to see it opened up a little bit more so that they have more opportunities for better locations for their shops,” Wallin said.

Councilman Chris Maslanik said he’s gone back and forth over whether the businesses should be allowed in the downtown area but that he doesn’t have an issue with commercial zoning whatsoever.

Councilwoman Wilma Rose was the only member to voice her opposition to having a tattoo studio in the downtown area. She said downtown is not an appropriate place for a tattoo studio, however, said she would support a zoning change to restricted retail and service or general retail with conditional use.

“I still feel that we have a number of businesses that would not appreciate having a tattoo parlor next to them downtown and so I still feel that’s not appropriate,” she said.

Councilman Rex Bell said the acceptability of tattoo shops is a generational thing and that he needs to get over it.

“Expressing prejudice by zoning is really not acceptable to me,” he said, although he said he understands Wilma’s point of views that businesses downtown might have different perceptions of tattoo shops.

Mayor Dick McLean said times are changing, that council needs to keep up with the times and that tattoo shops are acceptable now. He praised council for being so open and willing to discuss the issue.

Zoning for tattoo shops is not the only change being considered as the planning department works to update the Land Use and Development Code. The department is drafting a new code amendment to address concerns about oil and gas. Prather said they would also like to update the code for gas stations to look for any redundancies and possibly draft a new code amendment for recycling centers.

Prather said the process could be complete in about four to six months, after the amendments have been drafted, discussed at a future council study session, looked at by the Planning Commission and approved by council.

In other business, council decided to hold a special study session at 6 p.m. Feb. 5 to meet with state Sen. Mary Hodge. Council’s regular meeting will convene at 7 p.m. following the study session.