A tattoo parlor at the center of a Mesa neighborhood controversy can soon open for business.
The City Council lifted the final barrier Wednesday night that has kept 24-year-old Kelly Garnett from opening his shop, Damage Ink, by granting him an exception to the city’s zoning code.
Garnett learned in April he could not open his shop on Alma School Road because, under a city ordinance, it was too close to a school, Dobson High. The ordinance requires tattoo shops to be at least 1,200 feet from another tattoo shop or a school.
Even though Damage Ink is nearly a quarter mile from Dobson, the city doesn’t measure by driving distance. Instead, it measures “as the crow flies” — a standard that isn’t written into the city’s zoning code. That left Damage Ink 200 feet short.
“I don’t think we can deny this person an opportunity to open his business simply because possibly someone might be offended by the types of people that might come to this parlor,” said Councilman Tom Rawles before the final vote.
The shop has ruffled some members of nearby Marlborough Mesa neighborhood, who say they weren’t given proper notice about community meetings and complained that many people who signed a petition in favor of the shop weren’t local residents. They also are unhappy that Garnett didn’t follow the city code and don’t think a tattoo shop will enhance the neighborhood.
Garnett has argued that his shop has enough fences, roads, houses and yards separating it from Dobson High to qualify for a council use permit.
He invested roughly $40,000 into the shop.