Aldermen approved an ordinance that allows tattoo parlors as permitted uses in Union, but one alderman disagreed with the decision stating that the businesses could be opened in residential subdivisions.

The Union Board of Aldermen Tuesday approved the recommendation of the city’s planning board to allow tattoo parlors in some zoning districts. However, there were changes made to the recommendation prior to its approval.

The new law permits tattoo businesses in B-1 business districts, and as a conditional use in B-2 districts. The parlors will be permitted in B-2 districts if they meet specific conditions.

The planning and zoning board recommended that the parlors be permitted, without conditions, in B-1 and B-2 districts, but as conditional uses in B-3 districts.

The ordinance was approved 6-2, with dissenting votes cast by Aldermen Dustin Bailey and Bob Schmuke.

Schmuke, who also serves on the planning and zoning board, said there shouldn’t be a conditional use permit required in B-2 zoning districts.

Tattoo parlors are not allowed in B-3 zoning districts.

Bailey said there should not be tattoo parlors allowed at all in B-2 districts because many B-2 business districts include homes and subdivisions, including the Union Station subdivision located off Independence Drive north of Highway 50.

“I have my reservations based on the proximity that the zoning district is to homes,” said Bailey. “I don’t think the neighbors I represent would appreciate a tattoo parlor next door.”

Bailey explained that someone could purchase a home in a B-2 district, and open a tattoo parlor next to other homes.

“Someone could purchase a cheap house and flip it into a tattoo parlor,” he said.

Last month, Dean Jeffers told planning and zoning board members that he intends to open a tattoo parlor in Union, but that type of business does not fit into any current zoning codes.

Prior to Tuesday night, the city did not have a code that addressed tattoo parlors. The planning board’s recommendation mirrored the codes for personal services, including salons and barbershops.

Dean had told the planning board that he was looking to open a shop in the downtown area, or near East Central College.

Tuesday, Bailey said a tattoo parlor wouldn’t be a fit in downtown Union.

“I don’t feel it would fit into the quaint downtown,” he said. “We can’t put a tattoo parlor next to Head Start, which is in downtown.”

Bailey added that he doesn’t want to completely bar tattoo parlors in Union.

“I am not saying that a tattoo parlor is not a good idea along Highway 50 or by Wal-Mart in a strip mall,” he said.

Alderman Paul Arand noted that the city should not disallow tattoo parlors because of the type of service offered.

“I don’t think we want to discriminate,” he said.

Conditional Use

City Attorney Tim Melenbrink told board members that allowing a conditional use permit does not give the board the authority to ban the business, only to set conditions to operate it.

The conditions generally include parking or hours of operation.

“You can’t refuse (a business),” said Melenbrink. “The conditions have to be reasonable and directed at containing the impact.”

Alderman David Pope added that requiring a conditional use permit in B-2 zoning would give neighbors an opportunity to speak for or against the business.

“With a conditional use permit we have more tools, and it gives neighbors the opportunity to come to a meeting,” Pope said.