Tattoo parlor permit request withdrawn

Though he recently withdrew his request for a conditional use permit, the man who sought to open a tattoo parlor in Water Tower Shopping Center may reapply in the near future.

“If the chance ever comes up, I might be back in a month or two,” Eric C. Waite, the applicant, said last week.

Waite and Eddie J. Espada requested a conditional use permit allowing a tattoo and body piercing parlor in Water Tower Shopping Center on Iron Bridge Road. Espada has since withdrawn his name from the application, Waite said at a community meeting on Monday, Dec. 6.

The Planning Commission approved the request at its Oct. 19 meeting, where no one spoke against the proposal. But, after hearing passionate pleas from residents of nearby neighborhoods, the Board of Supervisors sent the case back to the commission for further discussion last month. At meetings on the issue, residents said they were concerned that the parlor, which they thought did not belong in the area, would bring with it an increase in crime.

At the commission’s Dec. 13 meeting, Waite told the panel he wanted to withdraw his request.

“I just can’t see any use going forward with it,” he said. The commission, with Chairman William Brown absent because of illness, acknowledged the withdrawal.

Based on how the supervisors were talking at their Nov. 17 meeting, “I didn’t think it was a fight I could win,” Waite said in a Friday interview. Sending the case back to the commission “ran me out of money,” he said, and, if the supervisors weren’t going to approve it, “they should have told me.”

“There’s no way I could win a fight when they base their decisions on personal beliefs,” he said.

Since he withdrew the request, he can reapply at any time once he raises some more money, he said. A tattoo parlor near Fort Lee has offered Waite space to work after the first of the year, he said.

Getting a tattoo is always going to be a personal decision, he said, and not everyone will choose to get one.

“It’s just that one word, tattoo, that seems to be a taboo subject,” he said.

On Monday, Brown said Waite demonstrated at the Dec. 6 community meeting that he knew all of the rules and regulations governing the tattoo business.

“Perhaps his only business error was signing a lease that didn’t have a contingency clause,” Brown said. He said he hoped Waite was “successful somewhere.”

The conditional use process “potentially exists for specific sorts of businesses or other activities that may or may not be a good fit for a particular neighborhood,” he said.

The commission’s goal is to try to get public input on each request and arrive at a reasonable and justifiable recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, he said.

Some of the opposition to Waite’s parlor likely stemmed from impressions of tattoo parlors in the 1950s and 1960s, he said, when they had “an image associated with them of being really wild.”

“I think, over the last 10 or 20 years, that has transitioned,” he said, because many people from all walks of life now have tattoos.

On Friday, Krystal Reddin, a clerk at Off the Ark Exotic Pets in Water Tower Shopping Center, said she could understand the concerns expressed by some nearby residents.

But, if a tattoo parlor is in a nicer place, she said, “You’re not going to have creepy, sketchy people.”

“I think it’s just a bunch of BS, to be completely honest,” she said.

Stephanie Rosenkrans, an employee at U-Tan, said she didn’t have a problem with the tattoo parlor.

“And I don’t really see why other people would have a problem with it, because this is a shopping center,” she said. “I don’t think it’s really going to affect anybody.”

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