Plant City drops tattoo parlor ban
PLANT CITY - Commissioners voted 3-2 Monday to allow tattoo parlors and body piercing studios for the first time. And it may not be a long wait until the first such establishment opens its doors. Carolyn Monroe Lewis said she and her husband, Rich, plan to open a tattoo parlor at 1801 Thonotosassa Road as early as next week. Mayor Dan Raulerson and Commissioner Bill Dodson cast the dissenting votes following a public hearing that drew only a handful of speakers.Carolyn Lewis was among those who spoke in favor of allowing tattoo parlors and body-piercing studios in the city. She said her husband, who is also a minister, runs a clean, well-run business and refuses any requests for gang or satanic tattoos. Citizens who spoke against the ordinance argued that such establishments run contrary to the city's image as a family-oriented place. One of the opponents, Ray Young, said after the vote, "this is not Plant City, but I understand life will go on." City Attorney Ken Buchman said the city's longstanding ban on tattoo and body piercing businesses probably wouldn't withstand a court challenge. Commissioner Mike Sparkman said he voted in favor of adopting the law partially because the city could face an expensive legal battle if the city stuck to the ban. The owners of the building where the Lewises wants to open their shop, Judy and Hugh Fulmer, said they were all for it the change in the law. Their building was formerly a medical office with private rooms, making it a good fit for a tattoo parlor, they said. "It's a perfect place. It's been vacant for two years so I'm glad to rent it," Hugh Fulmer said. Under the new law, tattoo parlors and body piercing studios will be allowed in many commercial zoning districts, with notable exceptions including downtown and the Midtown redevelopment area. The city planning board and city staff members all recommended approval of the ordinance. Police Chief Bill McDaniel said he surveyed law enforcement agencies in surrounding communities with tattoo parlors, and the agencies all agreed that the businesses caused virtually no problems.
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