Ocean City rules against tattoo parlors

Town Council votes to let only doctors apply designs

August 18, 1999|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,SUN STAFF

Alarmed that tattoo parlors could damage Ocean City's image, officials have outlawed the businesses in Maryland's beach resort -- unless the designs are applied by a doctor.

City lawmakers say a last-minute zoning change modeled after a 1960 New York City ordinance should be enough to thwart the plans of two Delaware tattoo artists who want to share space in a body-piercing shop in Ocean City's historic downtown. In a 5-2 vote Monday night, Town Council members voted to change a 15-year-old ordinance that had kept tattoo parlors out by requiring that a physician be present if tattoo artists were applying the designs.

Now, doctors have to apply the designs.

"At no time in our history have we had tattoo parlors, and we're not going to have them now," said Councilman James S. Hall, who sponsored the change in the ordinance. "If it's challenged in court, we'll go to court. If we need to change the law again, we'll change the law. If they want to sue, we can stay in court for the next 50 years."

City officials who say they are concerned that tattoo parlors would be detrimental to Ocean City's carefully crafted image as "America's Family Resort" have scrambled for the past month to block the plans by Windchimes Tattoo, which operates parlors near Fenwick Island and Laurel, Del., to open in Ocean City. Michael Copley and Karen Berres, who own Windchimes, say they worked in good faith to comply with Ocean City's ordinance by hiring Dr. Alexander Matas, a specialist in emergency medicine who agreed to observe as tattoos were applied to customers in space shared with Pit Bull Piercing.

"We're just trying to get our act together," Berres said yesterday . "We thought it was weird that they would change the rules in the middle of the game."

Pub Date: 8/18/99

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