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Youngstown commission rejects downtown tattoo parlor

Published: 3/20/13 @ 12:01




The city’s planning commission and a city councilwoman prefer a downtown building remain vacant rather than have a tattoo parlor there.

The commission voted 3-1 Tuesday against recommending a waiver for Lance Peck, who owns Blackheart Tattoo on Mahoning Avenue in Austintown, to open a second parlor at 101 W. Federal St., the location of the former William Leonard’s Extraordinary Spa and Salon, which closed last year.

Before the vote, Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, whose ward includes downtown, said, “I don’t want to see [a tattoo parlor] in that location.” She added that “we want to create a certain atmosphere” downtown.

The commission voted last year in favor of recommending a waiver — later approved by city council, which makes the final decision on all waivers — to allow Blue Magic

Tattoos and Piercings to open at 217 W. Federal St., near Blackheart’s proposed location.

After the vote, Peck said, “I don’t know why they’d stifle small business. If they keep shooting people down, people will stop coming here. What I heard is, ‘It’s too good for you.’”

Peck said the downtown location would be similar to his business in Austintown, featuring work by local artists, including sculptures, wood carvings and screen-printing clothes.

“More art downtown in that area would be a big help to everyone,” he said. “A little bit of art and culture would do the city good.”

Peck also said he is heavily involved in positive activities for youths, such as Halloween parties and Easter egg hunts, closes his business at 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and at 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and doesn’t tattoo anyone who is intoxicated.

He wants to hire about three or four people at the downtown location with an average annual salary of $35,000.

Peck needs a waiver because tattoo parlors are among the businesses considered “regulated use” under the city zoning code.

Other businesses with that designation including secondhand stores, bars and other places that sell alcoholic beverages, pornographic movie theaters, strip clubs and payday lenders.

Even with the 3-1 vote against Peck, the commission didn’t reject the proposal.

There are supposed to be seven members on the commission, so votes of fewer than four, a majority, aren’t binding.

There are currently six members. Jill Carter and Mayor Charles Sammarone — for at least the past 15 years or so, mayors skip a majority of planning commission meetings — didn’t show Tuesday. Sammarone is supposed to select someone for that seventh commission position that’s been vacant for about two months.

Angelo Pignatelli, a longtime commission member, said if he and Irving Lev, another member, do not show up, there wouldn’t be any commission meetings. The two attend nearly every meeting. The two other members at Tuesday’s meeting, Law Director Anthony Farris and Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works, also regularly attend commission meetings.

Shasho, the lone commission member at Tuesday’s meeting to vote against denying Peck the waiver, said, “We need more culture downtown.”

Lev said he voted against the waiver because “these more low-end things hurt the city.”

Also Tuesday, the commission voted 2-2 on a waiver for a secondhand store at 1914 E. Midlothian Blvd.

“It’s not conducive to the area,” said Pignatelli, who, along with Lev, voted against the waiver.

Like the tattoo parlor, the request for the secondhand store waiver didn’t receive four votes, so it remains unresolved.

Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th, who represents that ward, spoke Tuesday in support of allowing the store to open.


Posted by north_side_girl (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 1:25 a.m.

Hmm ... maybe the reason Blue Magic is allowed to run downtown - and be named after a brand of heroin - is because it is owned by Tim Adair, a former Mahoning County deputy sheriff.


Posted by uselesseater (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 3:01 a.m.

What a sham.

They regulate tattoo parlors under a special regulation that includes:
"secondhand stores, bars and other places that sell alcoholic beverages, pornographic movie theaters, strip clubs and payday lenders."

What's the issue around here discriminating against certain types of businesses? Do I support fools getting inked? No. Do I partake in porno theaters, no. Strip clubs, no. Payday lenders, no.

WTF is the issue with secondhand stores? God knows people in Youngstown are chronically broke and in need. Let's not put needed second hand stores in the area and help people and foster small businesses.

Downtown is an uppity illusion.

The closing of William Leonard’s shows that there is hardly anyone Downtown with cash. Can't afford a haircut and a shave, what are folks going to afford.

Then again, Downtown has no problem rubber stamping drinking joints. They seem to all be doing fine.

Entertaining the other ink joint named after a heroin brand and owned by a cop. No corruption or preferential treatment here. Move on, nothing to see.

Posted by lee (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 7:38 a.m.

“we want to create a certain atmosphere” You have already created an atmosphere and it stinks. Y town is a hole and has been for a long time.

Posted by harleydog (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 7:50 a.m.

What is the atmosphere that the council woman wants in downtown youngstown? If you ask me she is discriminating against this man. If it was a black business man wanting to open up a tattoo shop I don't think she would have a problem.

Posted by drpautot (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 8:22 a.m.

i will never understand why there are several members of council that never show up for these votes. I personally know the proprietor of the second hand store, a woman who wants to start a small business. her business plan is sound, and wont be just another junk store, or consignment shop; a hard working mother should not have to go through this legal mumbo jumbo just to start a small business. according to our republican readers aren't they the quote backbones of American business?

Posted by islandgrump (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 8:32 a.m.

Contact the ACLU. Talk about hindering free
enterprise. Youngstown should be happy to
draw hide traders if they would come in. Its called
a probationary waivor. After 90-120 days if there
are no problems, grant the waivor. Wow! Youngstown.

Posted by teddybear6 (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 8:42 a.m.

Oh yes Youngstown Council, by all means vote it down, because having a tatoo parlor that employs local artists (because that is what they are) and show cases artwork as a gallery inside the business is much more lower class than a bar, where people can sit and get drunk and then act like a-holes...Just because people have tatoos, does not make them low class. Talk about discriminating. Here's a local small business man trying to bring business to downtown, instead of letting a building sit empty, as most of them now do, and this "high end council" is blocking him. Those buildings will remain empty and people will continue to do business in the suburbs. What a shame.

Posted by Lifes2Short (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 8:56 a.m.

""“I don’t want to see [a tattoo parlor] in that location.” She added that “we want to create a certain atmosphere” downtown.""

Is she serious? Has she been downtown recently? What kind of atmosphere does she want to cater to? I have my guesses but it wouldn't be politically correct in this society today. And Peck is right, A little bit of art and culture would do the city good. Amazing.

Posted by CongressWatcher (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 9:40 a.m.

I have an idea. I would like to go downtown one time and not be approached by a "homeless" stranger and "asked" for money.... That would create a great atmosphere!

Posted by UsuallyBlunt (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 9:49 a.m.

I wonder if they would let me open a "Bus Tour" business downtown? I would call it GANGLAND TOURS and charge $5 a head to ride around town in armored vehicles while being shown drug houses and murder sites!

Posted by city_resident (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 9:51 a.m.

Great idea Erplane!

Judging by many of the comments so far, I can understand the decision to not allow a second tattoo parlor to open downtown. Many people already have the mistaken impression that there's just a bunch of bars downtown. Adding tattoo parlors (regardles of artistic merit) would only add to the misconception that downtown is seedy.

Posted by UNCOMMONSENSE (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 10:06 a.m.

What is being said here is that they do not want the type of people that tattoo parlors attract in downtown. So, if you have a tattoo, boycott downtown Youngstown and spend your dollars in Austintown. When the downtown feels the effects maybe council will realize that tattooed people are not so bad.

Posted by Laurieljc (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 11:39 a.m.

Grouping a tattoo parlor and a second hand store together in the same category as an establishment that sells alcohol or a strip club is almost as rediculous as saying a tattoo parlor will bring culture to the downtown area!

Posted by busyman (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 12:38 p.m.

They should put it down by the WTRA bus station where most of the customer base moves through.

Posted by UNCOMMONSENSE (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 1:46 p.m.

YoungstownBornRaised if we use your logic then we should only have one restaurant, bank or retail store downtown. It is not up to you to determine if there is enough business, but the business owner. We have a call center in that very area that is more of a nuisance then any tattoo parlor. Drive by 20 Federal plaza when the cars are double parked blocking the road and the employees are hanging outside lighting up. It is no wonder why the suburbs continue to grow and the city decays.

Posted by Ytownnative (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 3:34 p.m.

I guess they want more bars, or bars that serve food. I went downtown last week to pay my water bill and actually walked up to federal plaza. What atmosphere are they talking about? the run down decaying buildings? the boarded up buildings? The empty shops?

Posted by dawn421 (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 5:30 p.m.

i guess all those bars are more "conducive" to the city?

Posted by city_resident (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 5:56 p.m.

Except for being locally owned, instead of a national chain, what's the difference between the "bars" downtown, and the "restaurants" along 224 in Boardman, or Mahoning Ave. in Austintown?

Posted by DSquared (anonymous) on March 20, 2013 at 7:16 p.m.

Obviously Mr Peck forgot to bring the envelopes full of cash! Aaaaah, some things never change.

Posted by Tornado82 (anonymous) on March 21, 2013 at 12:21 p.m.

This specific tattoo shop owner is known junkie and makes sure he smokes pot with his customers before tottooing them. I'm glad they stopped this shop from opening.

Posted by Tornado82 (anonymous) on March 21, 2013 at 12:22 p.m.


Posted by uselesseater (anonymous) on March 23, 2013 at 4:02 a.m.

This is the story of the two Youngstowns.

There are the uppity transplants and Ytown natives that happily mix it up with them in gentrifying Downtown. The tiny island of denial.

Then there is the rest of Youngstown --- paycheck to paycheck, life struggles, etc. The masses of reality. The 98%+.

I've never understood regulating businesses of any sort. There are but a handful of businesses requiring tight controls. Strip clubs, bars, slaughter houses and some heavy polluting industries are about it.

It's governments role to ensure the safety of the public (which they do a pretty lousy job of for decades in Ytown). Beyond that safety (environmental and criminal mainly) government has no legitimate role or right to regulate like this. It is done outside of the judicial system in a foggy mist of administrative proceedings.

I say sue the City, sue the "Planning" commission. Easy to point to the many snafus in it's past.

I want more tat joints like I want more smoke stacks. But, you take what is offered by the viable tax paying businesses. Obviously, there is demand here for this place. Folks who don't like that reality should retreat to the suburbs, and denial.

Posted by RESTORE (anonymous) on March 25, 2013 at 11:43 a.m.

Number 1, very racist comment by a "part time" public official. 2, it would appear that the "planning commission" can be anti-business when you consider downtown being "the Central Business" district. 3, A ongoing concern regarding "the Central Business District" is the individuals involved in the planning, development process, etc. You have "part time" officials trying to do a job that requires "full time", qualified individuals make decisions that is for the greater good. Are the existing business owners downtown actively involved in the planning and development process? If not, they should be. A "blend" of business is good in your business district if its sustainable in the market place. I would suggest interested parties take a trip to Akron and visit their business district. Not rocket science, but take the individuals with the capacity and competency to make it happen. Downtown is better but stories like this makes you wonder. ( My 2 cents)

Posted by DwightK (anonymous) on March 27, 2013 at 3:16 p.m.

They won't allow a tattoo parlor downtown but peep shows uptown on Market St and the Foster Theater on Glenwood are OK? Give me a break.

Posted by Askmeificare (anonymous) on March 29, 2013 at 4:04 a.m.

People with tattoos are violent people.

Haven't any of you seen the Marlon Brando movies with the motorcycles and all of the beer cans?! ?! ?!