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Tattoo parlor ban opposed

April 10, 2000|By ANDREA ROWLAND

WILLIAMSPORT - Nearly all of the approximately 20 people attending a Monday night public hearing told Williamsport's Mayor and Town Council they were against changing the town's zoning text to bar new tattoo and piercing studios.

Many of those opposed to barring new tattoo and piercing studios, including Williamsport resident Monty Jones, supported banning new exotic dance clubs.

One type of business provides a service while the other offers entertainment, Jones said. "Somehow they got lumped together."

"There's more and more of our freedoms being eroded every day by the federal government, the state government and now the municipalities," said Williamsport resident Kenton Lafferty. "What will we have left?"

Other people said they feared that if one type of business were barred from opening in the town, other restrictions would follow.

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"It's going to be like a domino effect," said Robert Boyd, of Williamsport. "I just don't agree with it."

Two people said they favored the proposed zoning text amendment in its entirety, but declined to elaborate.

The Williamsport Planning Commission sent the council a letter recommending prohibition of new tattoo, body piercing and exotic dance establishments.

The council made no decisions Monday.

Testimony heard at the public hearing will be discussed at an open work session May 1, and the council will approve or reject either all or part of the proposed revisions at the May 8 town meeting.

The council also has the option of permitting affected establishments by "special exception," on a case by case basis, said Town Attorney Edward Kuczynski.

The council in March unanimously voted to introduce a proposed text amendment to the town's zoning ordinance. The motion to amend the text was in response to residents' requests, Mayor John Slayman said.

Existing tattoo, piercing and exotic dancing businesses would not have to leave town, but must stay in their present location if the zoning text were changed, Kuczynski said.

Mr. Natural's Tattoo Studio and Ms. Natural's Body Piercing at 3 N. Conococheague St. are the only such establishments in town.

There are no exotic dance clubs in Williamsport.

Tattoo studio owner Jared Jordan rents space at his shop's old location at 40 N. Conococheague St. He said he eventually would like to buy that building for his business.

Building owner Sherry Shergy said Jordan is an ideal renter and would make a good owner.

"He's clean. He pays the rent on time, and he keeps the trash out," Shergy said. "He's paying taxes and actually helping the town. I think he should be able to move wherever he wants. It's only fair."

Both Jordan and Tisha Saville, of Ms. Natural, said they were against allowing new exotic dance clubs in Williamsport.

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