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Springfield could ease rules for tattoo shops

They could be treated more like barbershops, salons and cleaners.

The city is considering zoning code changes to allow more flexibility in the placement of body art studios in Springfield.

The amendments regarding tattoo studios were expected to be discussed at last Thursday’s Central CEDA Regional Planning Commission meeting and at today’s City Planning Board meeting, but city officials wanted more time to examine the issue.

The amendments could be discussed in October, according to Bryan Heck, the city’s planning and zoning administrator. The code changes must also be approved by city commission.

Tattoos parlors are currently treated differently than other personal service establishments, such as barbershops, hair salons and dry cleaners, because those businesses aren’t restricted to certain zoning districts.

There are currently two zoning classifications in which tattoo parlors can open – Central Business District, or CB-10, and Intensive Commercial District, or CI-1. The CI-1 designation includes language that states tattoo parlors cannot be located within 100 feet of a school, church or residential district.

The codes for tattoo parlors were changed in the late 1990s before the city’s codes were overhauled in 2001.

“It’s prompted us to revisit the issue,” Heck said.

There are currently four licensed body art establishments in Clark County, according to the Clark County Combined Health Districts, including:

• Natural Look Hair Salon, 2300 East Main St., Springfield.

• Springfield Ink, 562 East Main St., Springfield.

• Thin Lizzy’s Tattooing, 11 North Belmont, Springfield.

• Dream Merchant, 841 E. Main St., Springfield.

According to a 2012 Harris Interactive poll, one in five Americans have at least one tattoo.

Larry Shaffer of the Clark County Combined Health District’s Environmental Health Dept. said it’s the district’s job to ensure sanitary procedures. The district licenses tattoo and body piercing establishments and performs inspections through rules created by the Ohio Administrative Code.

“It’s becoming pretty mainstream,” Shaffer said.

A variety of medical issues can arise from unsanitary conditions, although the health district rarely sees major complaints about tattoo establishments in Clark County, Shaffer said.

“The shops that are licensed tend to want to run safely,” Shaffer said. “Most business owners are savvy enough to know that they don’t want problems because it’s bad for business. They don’t want problems.”

Elizabeth Nelson, the owner of Thin Lizzy’s, believes change is necessary regarding the zoning of body art establishments. Nelson said the demographics of clients at her business is wide-ranging and that the old stigmas of tattoo businesses no longer apply.

“The public opinion, and hopefully the city’s opinion, on tattoo establishments now being a viable business would make them rethink that,” Nelson said.

James Nott, the owner of Springfield Ink, believes there should be restrictions on where tattoo shops can be located, especially near residential districts. He believes body art establishments should be treated more like doctor’s offices.

However, location is only 10 percent of the business, Nott said.

“It’s your art that actually gets you the business,” Nott said.

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