Newton OKs tattoo parlors downtown

Tattoo artists can now ink a permanent place in the heart of Newton.
Newton City Council approved a move that will allow tattoo parlors to be established in the city’s B-3 central business district in the downtown area. With the green light, Newton residents Margaret and Jonathan Landers hope to ink a deal to buy a downtown building and establish a business that offers more than tattoos.
“We plan to buy a building and make it into a full art gallery,” Margaret Landers said, adding she has operated a similar business in downtown Hickory for the past three years. “We have a full art gallery, where we offer local artists the opportunity to exhibit. ... Our idea for the building is to offer an interactive space. Tattooing will be just one small part of the building.”
A tattoo artist for 10 years, Landers is also an oil painter, and she said she aims to offer galley space for other art forms, including pottery, painting and photography. The couple said they hope to buy the vacant “Wilkerson building” on B Street and convert it into an tattoo parlor and art gallery.
“This whole area has a strong art base,” she said. “I think this is an opportunity to take an open building and turn it into something neat for the community."
Council member Anne Stedman supported the ordinance change to allow tattoo parlors in Newton’s downtown.
“What we are trying to develop is a vibrant downtown ... I think it belongs downtown,” she said, explaining a tattoo parlor doesn’t belong in a shopping center along U.S. 321 business. “It goes back to revitalizing downtown. We have a huge art community, and we have artists already downtown. I think it will help foster that sector. I don’t think it belongs outside of the (central business) district because you won’t have the kind of foot traffic you have downtown.”
Not everyone agreed, however.
“As much time as this Council has spent working on the development of downtown Newton ... After all we have gone through, I do not think it is right,” said Newton Mayor Robert Mullinax. “I am thinking about downtown Newton.”
Council member Wayne Dellinger said allowing tattoo parlors in the city’s downtown district would open the door to more parlors besides the one planned by the Landers that will also include art gallery space.
“If we allow your shop, which has proved to be legitimate, we can’t keep somebody that is not legitimate out,” he said. “If we allow a tattoo shop, whether it is presentable or not, that is a concern. ... This is not just for one building.”
A zoning text amendment to allow tattoo parlors in Newton’s central business district was approved with Dellinger casting the lone dissenting vote.

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