City council's service committee wants more time to decide whether to give a tattoo business a special exception use permit to open in the heart of Reynoldsburg's old town district.

City council's service committee wants more time to decide whether to give a tattoo business a special exception use permit to open in the heart of Reynoldsburg's old town district.

The request was on the committee's agenda at its Feb. 17 meeting but applicant Richard Morrison asked that it be put on hold so he could complete a business trip. It's now on the service committee's March 16 agenda.

Morrison wants to open a tattoo studio at 7305 E. Main St., close to Hannah Ashton Middle School at 1482 Jackson St., and to the New Antioch Bible Fellowship Church at 1415 Lancaster Ave.

The city's Board of Zoning and Building Appeals granted a variance for the business on Jan. 15. The variance allows a tattoo studio to exist within 1,000 feet of a park, school or church. Since the variance was approved, the special exception use permit is needed in order for the business to exist within a community commerce zoning district.

Development director Lucas Haire said there is a list of standards for every special exception use permit, and council is reviewing each one.

"The applicant is asking for a special exception permit to allow the tattoo studio to be within that area, which is zoned as a commercial community district," Haire said. "So it's not a permitted use in that zoning district. It can only be permitted with a special exception and it can be permitted under certain circumstances if it's appropriate for the area and meets the eight criteria in the special use permit code."

Service committee chairman Mel Clemens said in his opinion, the business would change the essential character of the district.

"It does affect the areas because it does affect the area around it. It's different than the character intended; the character intended for the district is old Reynoldsburg," he said.

"I know Mr. Morrison has a good shop, I've heard of him, and he seems to be an outstanding person, but this is right at our main intersection and to me, that draws away from the section of town that is supposed to be old Reynoldsburg and I don't think it is a proper place for it," Clemens said.

Councilwoman Leslie Kelly said she thinks Morrison is a talented artist but she is not convinced the business would be the right fit for that area.

"My concern is what door are we opening it's an adult type business," Councilman Ron Stake said.

Councilwoman Donna Shirey said a majority of citizens she has spoken to or heard from are not in favor of a tattoo studio opening in that area.

Stake said the issue needs to be reviewed further and said all eight criteria should be studied closely before a decision is made.

Councilman Barth Cotner said he has no objection to tattoos, but he, too, wants to do more review of the special use permit criteria before making any decisions.

"I haven't heard anyone say tattoos are bad. I don't care whether a person has a tattoo or not but I still have to look at the city as a whole," he said. "Does this business fit with these eight criteria? Does it fit with this zoning plan? That's where the reservation is on my part," he said.

Jim Cain, the investor interested in purchasing the location for Morrison to operate a tattoo and art studio, said there is unfortunately a stigma about a tattoo studio going into any community.

"We're not the first folks that have approached city council with something that is a bit of a challenge for them to understand as they look at maintaining the integrity of the community," Cain said. "There is no question that there is a stigma associated with the word tattoo, but I think the acceptance of tattoo is becoming more absorbed into the culture.

"The bottom line is, Rich Morrison is one of the top 10 artists in the country, and that's not just by tattoo, but several mediums, one of which happens to be tattoo," he said.

Cain said he and Morrison had several different cities and townships to choose from in opening the business. Because Morrison is a resident of Reynoldsburg, the Main Street location made sense, he said.

"It just made sense not only from a commuting perspective but also to put money back into the community and actually put Reynoldsburg on the cultural map," Cain said.

Hannah Ashton Middle School principal Tina Thomas-Manning said she doesn't think having a tattoo studio near the school will be an issue.

"It doesn't become an issue for us because of proximity, because many of our students are bused, and I just don't know that they will have access to it," Thomas-Manning said.

"I'm hoping it's a non-issue for us and the few of our students who are not bused and are walkers, none of them need to go to Main Street," she said. "In this day and age, it's hard to begrudge anybody that has a business opportunity. It's good for the community. I mean, I see both sides of it and I think we can work together to make it a win-win for everybody," she said.

New Antioch Bible Fellowship Church's senior pastor, Trent Hayes, told city council he thinks "a certain perception" about historic Reynoldsburg should be maintained.

"From my position as a pastor and what we teach, principles from the Bible markings of the body are not something we support, that we project as acceptable," he said. "If we all have a law, then I think we should all abide by that law."

According to the criteria in city code, a proposed use for a special use permit:

Shall be in harmony with the existing or intended character of the district and nearby affected districts and shall not change the essential character of the districts.

Shall not adversely affect the use of adjacent property.

Shall not adversely affect the health, safety, morals or welfare of persons residing or working in the neighborhood.

Shall be served adequately by public facilities and services such as, but not limited to, roads, police and fire protection, storm water facilities, water, sanitary sewer, and schools.

Shall not impose a traffic impact upon the public right-of-way significantly different from that anticipated from permitted uses of the district.

Shall be in accord with the general and specific objectives, and the purpose and intent of the city's zoning code, the land use plan and any other plans and ordinances of the city.

Must comply with applicable specific provisions and standards of the zoning code.

Must meet the definition and intent of a use specifically listed as a special exception in the district in which it is proposed to be located, except as otherwise provided by the zoning code.

dowen@thisweeknews.com