FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WALA) - Kevin Black of Fairhope said city officials are threatening his constitutional rights by preventing him from opening a tattoo parlor there.
Fairhope City Council member Rick Kingrea said the council plans to discuss imposing a moratorium on "tattoo parlors, strip clubs and adult entertainment stores" at their 6 p.m. meeting on Monday and have invited the public to voice their opinions as well.
The moratorium hasn't been added to the agenda yet but community members who wish to comment must sign up with the City Clerk, Lisa Hanks, before noon on Monday.
The best laid plans
Black said he has been planning to open a tattoo parlor in Fairhope but, by stopping him, the city is "trampling on his constitutional right to freedom of expression."
After meeting with officials at city hall in February, Black said he was instructed to go forward with the plans to build his parlor in downtown Fairhope.
Black said City Zoning and Planning Department officials told him the place he wanted to build on was zoned properly. It was categorized as personal services along with beauty salons. Black said the city awarded him the proper permits.
However, when he went to the city clerk to apply for his business license, his application was denied. A zoning and planning official told him his denial was pending the next meeting of the department's adjustment board.
Mayor Tim Kant asked that the board table the issue until their next meeting, however, and said the board wanted to consider regulations restricting that type of business, according to Black.
Black said Kant expressed concern the tattoo parlor would steer land use in the city in a direction that is uncharacteristic of Fairhope. City Council members now plan to discuss a maratorium on the business and others officials have grouped into a category with it.
Kingrea sent this e-mail Friday afternoon:
"Please add an agenda item to Monday's Council meeting. The Mayor will propose a 6 month moratorium on granting business licenses to tattoo parlors, strip clubs, adult entertainment stores, etc.
This moratorium will allow time to develop an ordinance addressing these types of businesses. "
Kingrea said the point of the moratorium is so that "city planners have a chance to establish what is right and what is wrong or what we want to do or don't want to do."
Kingrea said he is concerned the parlor would bring undesirable elements into the city.
"If a tattoo parlor opened up and all of a sudden you had motorcycle gangs showing up or a bunch of folks you didn't care for, you would be able to say yeah that's not what we're looking for," Kingera said.
According to Kingrea, the council is looking for a family-style business anyone can go to and he thinks the parlor may draw undesirable elements into the city.
Black argues he will be serving the people of Fairhope including the military and firefighters. He also mentions his parlor is by appointment only and that will help control who does and doesn't patronize his business.
"All I've ever wanted to do is move back to my home town and work as an artist here. I just want to go to work, do my job and lock up at the end of the day just like any other business," Black said.
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