City council votes to approve proposed tattoo/body art studio.
By Dave Whitaker
Jul 13, 2021, 22:31
As part of Tuesday night’s monthly city council meeting, a public hearing was held on a proposal to amend the zoning ordinance to allow a tattoo/body art studio in either the downtown, community, or neighborhood business districts. The city planning commission voted 5-0 in a hearing last Thursday to recommend a conditional use permit to the petitioner, Shawn Ratley.
Mayor Billy Yeomans said city council could vote to table the matter, issue a permitted use certificate meaning Ratley could begin the process of securing a license, or go the same route as the planning committee with conditional use. A conditional use permit would require Ratley to list a specific location for his business, more hearings, and a 60-70 day waiting period before he could move forward.
Ratley spoke first. He thanked city council for considering the matter, urging them to not choose conditional use. He said the delay from conditional use cost him a building. Raltley said he’d received a lot of community support and was appreciative of it. He spoke of a desire to have something long-term in the community. Ratley said he loved living here and planned on dying here.
During the time of public comment, three spoke in favor of the business. Each said they would prefer to spend money on tattoos or tattoo removal locally as opposed to having to travel to Macon or Warner Robins. One woman told a story of how she’d approached Ratley about tattoo removal and how he was not judgmental.
In speaking again, Ratley said some artists were unwilling to touch the work of others or charged high fees. He said they wouldn’t do that. He spoke of offering programs to help people in removing tattoos they no longer wanted, as well as offering discounts to people on SSI Disability.
Ratley returned to the podium to speak again and answer questions. He said while he didn’t have a specific location yet, he wanted the studio to be downtown.
In answering a question from council member Dwight Lemmon about the minimum age to enter, Ratley said while 18 was the age mandated by state law, they would reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. He said there would signs stating no racist, profane, tattoos would be done, nor any with nudity would be done, and not to ask. He said they would try to steer younger customers away from any tattoos that they might regret getting later in life.
Council member Carla Coley spoke in favor of permitted use. After Ratley said he began this process in May, Coley said doing conditional use would be asking Ratley and family to put their lives on hold. She believed they’d waited long enough. Coley said she spoke to four downtown businesses, and all were excited about having the studio there.
Council member Gary Ates also spoke in favor of permitted use. He agreed with Coley that Ratley had waited long enough. Ates said downtown was in need of all types of businesses and this would be a good one for the area.
Ates made the motion to issue a permitted use certificate, seconded by Coley. They, along with Rufus Veal and Keith Anderson, voted for it. Voting no were Lemmon and Jimmy Jones.
To see what else happened at Tuesday night’s meeting, go to https://www.facebook.com/cityofcochrancityhall/videos/4805359009490916/
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