Tattoo parlor error angers shop owner

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

City of Covington elected officials corrected an error in the zoning law Monday to allow tattoo parlors within city limits, but one local businessman said it was too little, too late.

When the city's zoning laws were overhauled in 2008, tattoo parlors were omitted as an allowed use due to an administrative error, said Mayor Kim Carter. William Wyckoff, owner of Elektryk Inkk Tattoos on U.S. Highway 278, was recently notified by his landlord that he would have to move and subsequently discovered the use is not allowed under the current ordinance. Wyckoff has been in business since 2003.

Planning Director Randy Vinson recommended the council amend the ordinance to allow use within the corridor mixed use and light industrial zonings. There are currently two tattoo parlors operating in the city.

But Wyckoff said he didn't want that to happen. Instead, "We're going to take our business and leave. I feel like I'm being pushed out ... To me you're just saying you don't like our kind here," he said. Wyckoff said he hoped the council didn't amend the ordinance so that no new tattoo shops will locate in the city and the city won't get revenue.

"We are pro-business in Covington. It was an administrative error. We need to correct that error. That's what we're trying to do here tonight," Carter responded.

But Wyckoff and his wife stormed out of the meeting as the council was casting the vote to approve the first reading of the amendment to make tattoo parlors an allowed use. The final reading will take place at the council's April 4 meeting.

In other news, Carter said she would like the council to consider a change in alcohol license fees to a pro rata basis. Currently, the cost is $3,000 and the full year is paid regardless of when a business opens.

Carter said she'd like to see that reduced, for example, to 75 percent of the fee if the business opens after the first quarter, "so it doesn't discourage new business from opening and doesn't penalize them."

Councilman Keith Dalton suggested dividing the fee by 12 to determine a monthly amount and calculating accordingly. So, if a business opened in April for example, the fee would be minus the first three months. The council directed Vinson to research the issue and come back with more information.