FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WALA) - The Fairhope City Council voted Tuesday, May 28, to amend a zoning ordinance that would not allow certain business to operate in the downtown business district. Specifically named are non-chartered financial institutions, body piercing studios, pawn shops and tattoo parlors.
The owners of Man O' War tattoo parlor, Fairhope's only tattoo parlor, have been voicing their concerns over the proposed zoning amendment for weeks. They currently operate out of a small discrete shop in an alley off Fairhope Ave. in downtown. If passed by the city council they run the risk of having to relocate to the industrial district on Greeno Road.
"If our building were destroyed by natural causes or a fire or anything like that or our lease were to expire, we would have no options on where we could move in the local area," explained Man O' War co-owner Frank Thrasher.
Thrasher said Tuesday that he's cautiously optimistic that the amendment will at least be tabled again by the City Council and further thought put into it. This is after several city officials including Mayor Tim Kant visited the shop over the last few days.
"They are not hounding us," Thrasher said. "They are engaging us and working with us to try and find a nice, positive way to see our industry become a nice addition to the artistic community in Fairhope."
Fairhope Mayor Tim Kant, who also sits on the city zoning board, said he didn't feel comfortable putting an exemption on the tattoo parlor. He feels that all businesses should be treated alike.
"Therefore, we're going to allow him to locate anywhere in the B2 that's at least 275 feet away from a residential home," Kant told FOX10 Tuesday afternoon.
Under the amended ordinance, no other tattoo parlors would be able to set up shop in the downtown area because of a restriction that would require anywhere from a 1,000 to 5,000 foot distance between like stores.
Exactly how far it will be has not been decided yet. Kant said he's comfortable with the compromise that's proposed.
"You've got to have a tradeoff when you're dealing with what types of businesses that we allow and so we're going to try this," Kant said. "If it breaks or if it works, I think it's a learning process."
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