Zoning official listens to promises, warnings on tattoo parlor proposal


As a zoning official heard a proposal for a tattoo parlor in Towson yesterday, tattoo artist Vincent Myers stressed his worldwide reputation and self-imposed code of conduct, but opponents said the business could hurt the area's image.

Mr. Myers, who hopes to open a shop on the second floor of 416 York Road, said he won't tattoo anyone under age 18 without the consent of a parent or guardian. He said he also won't tattoo anyone he suspects of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

But a handful of opponents at the hearing expressed concerns that a tattoo parlor is not an appropriate business for Towson.

"The general feeling is to create a more family atmosphere and attract those kinds of businesses," said Susan DiLonardo, executive director of the Towson Business Association.

Zoning commissioner Lawrence E. Schmidt pointed out, however, that Mr. Myers' request to open a tattoo parlor won't be judged on whether it is a good idea for the community.

"The issue is what will go on in those four walls," he explained. He will decide whether such a business fits with what is permitted under county zoning regulations, he said.

One other tattoo parlor has been approved in the county.

In 1993, Mr. Schmidt granted a petition for a tattoo parlor, or "residential art salon," in Essex, writing in his opinion that a tattoo could be considered a work of art: "There appears to be no difference between the work of the great masters and [the tattooer's] occupation than a matter of taste and the surface [canvas vs. skin] on which the work of art is created."

But Justin King, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, told Mr. Schmidt that "zoning regulations do not permit this in a commercial zone."

At the hearing, Mr. Myers told the commissioner that he has traveled in the United States and Europe to promote his craft and custom tattoo designs, and has tattooed band members in U2 and the Grateful Dead.

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