Tattoo and body piercing studios in Mineral Wells will now be allowed to operate under a specific use permit following council approval of an amendment to the city's zoning ordinance.

Mineral Wells City Manager Randy Criswell said under the previous zoning ordinance, tattoo studios were not allowed in any zone under any circumstance. 

“Based on some research and some conversations on inquiries, we thought it was probably appropriate that that at least be reviewed," Criswell said. "I know certainly people have different opinions about tattooing but I do believe that we’re living in a different world today than we were when that zoning ordinance was written.”

Criswell said the concept was taken to the city’s planning and zoning commission to create a standard definition and propose that tattoo studios be allowed with a specific use permit in commercial local business, general retail, central business district and industrial zones.

“I know this has been something that’s been talked about for years and different tattoo parlors wanting to come here over the years,” At-Large Place 1 Councilmember Brian Shoemaker said. “I do think it’s time that we approve something like this, but I do have concerns just that you don’t want a tattoo parlor on every corner in town or anything like that. I like the way they’ve written it with the specific use permit and I do think it’s time to approve those to be allowed.”

Ward 3 Councilmember Beth Watson asked if the reason the planning and zoning commission wanted to look at tattoo studios individually was because there’s no state regulation on location.

“There’s nothing in the state law that puts tattoo parlors so far from churches and schools and that kind of thing like you would a bar,” she said.

Criswell said he couldn’t speak to what each commission member’s reasoning was.

“My perception based on the discussion was the sensitivity of something we haven’t done before and a desire to not go from nothing to anything goes,” he said. “A specific use permit is not to permit the use, it’s to say whether that is an appropriate location for that use. So to me, I think that’s a very good compromise going from something that’s been absolutely prohibited in its entirety to something that can be controlled and each application considered on its own merit based on the location that they’re proposing.”

Body piercing would also be included in the amendment as part of a tattoo studio.

“The way we’ve interpreted it is what you typically see is the tattooing and body piercing are happening at the same places,” Criswell said. “You have places that pierce ears that don’t need any type of permit at all, so what we believe, from a standpoint of the modernization of the ordinance, is that body piercing is something that’s going to occur in a tattoo studio and would just be a part of that process.”

A required public hearing was held, at which no member of the community spoke, and the amending of the zoning ordinance was unanimously approved by the council. 

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