Tattoo shop owner says Youngstown 'shut the door in my face'

By David Skolnick


For the third and probably final time, the city’s planning commission voted to not recommend that city council permit the opening of a second tattoo parlor downtown.

The commission voted 5-1 Tuesday against a waiver requested by Lance Peck, who owns Blackheart Tattoo, Mahoning Avenue in Austintown, to open another location at 101 W. Federal St.

“It’s a shame these old stigmas are still around for tattoo shops,” Peck said after the vote. “I saw an opportunity downtown, and the city shut the door in my face.”

Peck, who used to own a tattoo parlor in Portage County, said he may open his second shop there, in Coitsville, or in Sharon or New Castle, Pa., “where there’s a more healthy attitude toward the tattoo business. As for Youngstown, I’m done. It’s the city’s loss, not mine.”

Peck needed a waiver because tattoo parlors are among the businesses considered “regulated use” under the city zoning code. Other businesses with that designation include pornographic-movie theaters, strip clubs, payday lenders, secondhand stores and bars and other places that sell alcoholic beverages. Regulated uses within 500 feet of other regulated-use businesses need the waiver to operate.

Peck wanted to move into the location of the former William Leonard’s Extraordinary Spa and Salon, which closed last year. Friends Roastery, a Salem coffee business that originally had planned to open at Erie Terminal Place, plans to lease space at that location as its second location.

The landlord “had to do something with the property, so he is renting it to a coffee shop,” Peck said.

The commission voted 3-1 last month against Peck’s request. The commission’s rules at the time required at least four no votes from what is supposed to be a seven-member board to reject recommending waiver requests to city council, which has the final say on those matters.

The commission voted 4-0 against Peck in February after he arrived a few minutes late to a hearing on his waiver request.

The commission changed its voting rules Tuesday. Previously, at least four votes of the commission were needed to recommend waivers to city council. Now, it’s a simply majority if at least four members are present.

Also Tuesday, the commission voted 4-2 to recommend council grant a waiver for a secondhand store at 1914 E. Midlothian Blvd. It was the third time the request was in front of the commission.

The commission also recommended a regulated-use waiver for Strikers Deli & Carry to sell alcoholic beverages at 2603 Mahoning Ave.

As the board of zoning appeals — the same members serve on that board as on the planning commission — a zoning permit was rejected for a towing facility and storage yard at 535 N. Garland Ave., which is zoned residential.

The location has been a towing location for decades, but has been inactive for more than two years. Businesses operating in residential areas that are inactive for at least two years can’t be given “continuous-use” waivers, said Robert Rohrbaugh, an assistant city prosecutor.

But Farris said after the unanimous no vote that the business could request a zoning change.

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