Knightdale tattoo shop discussion focuses on shop hours

mhankerson@newsobserver.comDecember 17, 2013 

— A proposal to allow tattoo shops in more parts of the town faced some scrutiny last week while being reviewed by the Land Use Review Board.

Doug Taylor, in his first term on the board, communicated concerns from residents about busy retail areas backing up to residential zones. He said allowing another type of business that can stay open late may inconvenience some of those residents.

“Any type of service that stays open past 9 p.m. that backs up to a residential zone is a concern,” Taylor said. “It’s not just a tattoo parlor, it’s anything that stays open late.”

Along Knightdale Boulevard, there are several pockets of retail areas that are considered Highway Business zones that touch residential zones. The town is looking to allow tattoo shops in Highway Business zones.

Right now, general retail stores in Knightdale don’t have a limit on how late they can stay open. Personal services, like salons or spas, can stay open until 11 p.m., but as Taylor noted, many choose to close around 9 p.m.

As presented, the town’s proposal would allow tattoo shops to be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and the town is relying on state code to regulate the shops.

North Carolina code requires tattoo shops to abide by certain sanitation standards and requires individual tattoo artists to have a license, which must be renewed every year.

“People are concerned about the stigma of the old-school tattoo shop,” said councilor Dustin Tripp, who oversees the Planning and Engineering committee which helped draft the zoning change. He said noise shouldn’t become a problem, since any tattoo parlors would be subject to the town’s noise ordinance.

The LURB passed the zoning amendment back to Town Council with a recommendation to adopt the change and allow tattoo shops in Highway Business Zones.

Outdated concerns

Alyse Shirley is a Knightdale property owner and worked with her niece, Laural Jeffreys, to approach the town about allowing tattoo shops.

The two have plans to open the town’s first shop, but they wanted to secure the right location. Right now, their top pick for location is near the intersection of Smithfield Road and Knightdale Boulevard.

The area is zoned as a Highway Business zone, which currently doesn’t allow full-body tattooing. In 2010, the town passed an amendment that allows tattooing above the neck, or the application of permanent makeup.

Shirley and Jeffreys told the town the culture of tattoo shops has changed and their shop wouldn’t be any different than other personal service retail locations, like a spa or salon.

“Between North Carolina’'s regulations and where the industry is, a lot of these concerns that are coming (from the board), though they are valid, they are just a little outdated,” Jeffreys said at the LURB meeting.

Jeffreys assured the board that her shop would be quiet and clean, both standards set by the county and state.

LURB member Dan Froelich attempted to cut through the minutiae of the proposal by pointing out Jeffreys’ proposed shop would keep money in the town and provide some jobs.

“The intent here is to promote business,” Froelich said.

Right now, Jeffreys says residents would have to travel almost to Cary to be tattooed, as most tattoo shops in Raleigh are in the western side of the city.

The ordinance will go to Town Council for final approval at their next meeting.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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