By Stephanie Edwards
Tribune Reporter

A local business owner’s unusual request was heard at the March 2 regular session of City Council. Brian Holton asked that he be allowed to add a secondary business to his film business, which is located in a planned office zone in the city. Holton is a licensed tattoo artist, and he supplements his primary business of filmmaking and screenwriting with the practice. Allowing him to perform the tattooing would require an amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance. Tattooing is currently only allowed in districts with the CP-2 and light industrial designations.

Robert McKay, director of planning and special projects, presented the case for the amendment to Article 8 Accessory Uses and Structures to the Council. He explained that the applicant came to his office seeking the amendment. McKay instructed Mr. Holton to present his case before the Community and Economic Development Committee. The committee directed city staff to prepare language in order to present what Holton requested.

The amendment states that the tattoo or body piercing services will be allowed only as an accessory to another primary business associated with the fine arts, such as painting, sculpture, filmmaking, and screen writing. The tattoo services must be performed by a state-licensed artist who is the business owner. In addition, restrictions to signage allow only the logo and an email address and a phone number. Services must be by appointment only and cannot become the primary business.

“Mr. Holton is engaged in film editing,” McKay explained. “In between film editing jobs, he is a tattoo artist, and he did want to be able to supplement his income by doing the accessory use without having to relocate.” He recommended moving forward.

Councilmember Chris Moreno questioned whether the amendment would change what is currently allowed. McKay explained that it would not, and that the amendment would be limited to just a small group.

Councilmember Rob Binney said that it seemed “pretty specific.” This amendment is the first time a similar issue has come before the Council, he said. “If we are going to do accessory use, it seems like we are going down a path here,” he said.

Councilmember Diane Forte, who sits on the Community and Economic Development Committee, explained that when the matter first came before the committee she expected the committee to deny the request. “We looked at it, we listened to it,” she said. “We thought of small business.” The committee considered where the road might lead, she said and acknowledged that at some point in the future they may wish they had not “done this type of thing.”

“But we all four looked at this,” she said and considered the applicant and how it might work in the city at this time. “It was kind of a gut-heart feeling…we all felt that it was a good thing for us to do.”

Councilmember Chris Moreno questioned how the amendment might affect a hairstyle business conducting an accessory tattoo business. He pointed out that both are licensed by the same state agency. “I’m one hundred percent for going down this road,” Moreno said. “But if we are going to go down this road, I think we need to add licensed cosmetologists to this as well.”

Councilmember Dave Mosby cautioned against getting too specific. My thought is let’s pass this UDO amendment and if we want to take it back and take a look at expanding that language, that’s a separate issue,” he said. “Don’t punish a business person because we’re micromanaging this.”
The Council voted unanimously to pass the amendment.