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Tattoo Parlor Law Divides Residents

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – Opponents of a proposed law to allow tattoo parlors in Tarrytown say that the character of the village could be changed if the parlors are allowed, while supporters say tattoo parlors are legitimate businesses that are being unfairly demonized.

Tempers ran high at a public hearing on the matter this week with supporters seeking to dispel thoughts that tattoo parlors would harm kids.

“He's not going to be grabbing children off the street and tattooing them,” Sandra Hinkey said.

Chuck Hognell, the man who wants to open a tattoo parlor in Tarrytown, does not tattoo anyone under the age of 18, supporters noted, because New York State law says it's illegal to do so except for medical reasons.

Opponents of the law, however, had arguments of their own, especially since the law would apply village-wide and would not limit the number of tattoo parlors that could open in the village.

“Quite honestly, this isn't the city,”  said Lori Semeraro, a Tarrytown resident. “This is a small, little town. Six tattoo parlors or whatever don't belong here. I'm sorry. If you want to have a tattoo, that's perfectly fine. It's your choice. Go to the city and get one.”

The debate continued for two hours on Monday as the Tarrytown Board of Trustees considered whether it wanted to allow tattoo parlors. The current village code prohibits tattoo parlors. Trustees first took notice of the law when Hognell approached them and expressed his desire to open a tattoo shop in the village. Monday's meeting was the third public hearing on the issue.

Trustees have scheduled another public hearing on the issue after they made changes to the proposed law. The next public hearing will be Oct. 3 at 8 p.m. The new proposed law adds restrictions to where tattoo parlors can be located. Trustees have restricted tattoo parlors from occupying the first level of a building, or from operating in the Main Street Historic District.

Proponents and opponents of the proposed law argued with each other and clapped loudly when another person voiced an argument they agreed with on Monday. There was scattered mumbling and pointed remarks from both sides as well.

Opponents of the law voiced their concerns about a number of issues, including how they thought the tattoo parlor would negatively affect the village's image. Supporters said the tattoo parlor would fit in with Tarrytown's artsy, funky feel and contribute to overall diversity of the village, which they said were the reasons they were attracted to Tarrytown in the first place.

Several non-residents came and spoke at the hearing in support of their friend Hognell and his efforts to open a tatoo parlor. Daniel Silvers argued that Hognell was an artist, not just someone who tattoos people.

“You go in for multiple sessions to discuss what you want,” Silvers said, later adding that “This is your piece, no one else is going to have this piece. He's an artist who commissions pieces on people for the rest of their lives.”

Mike Love, the owner of Coffee Labs Roasters on Main Street, also spoke at the hearing. Hognell said he had a petition in Love's coffeeshop for approving the proposed law and it garnered 300 signatures.

“Everyone who owns a business or potentially is going to own business is going to generate sales tax from the business, is going to generate financial benefit for all the businesses. The more people who come to town, we all benefit,” Love said, later adding that he thought Hognell had “a really good, viable business.”

Click here for more background on the issues surrounding the proposed tattoo p arlor law.

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