Published: Jul 07, 2012 06:00 PM
Modified: Jul 07, 2012 03:43 PM
FUQUAY-VARINA - When Jimmy Bissette was looking to open a tattoo parlor in Fuquay-Varina he found willing landlords but came up against the town’s ordinances.
Fuquay-Varina’s existing buffer requirements virtually eliminate any tattoo parlor, electronic gaming cafe or sexually-oriented businesses from opening in town.
These ordinances leave the town open for litigation, said the town’s attorney and planning director.
“There was no place they could go, it wouldn’t have stood up in court,” said Planning Director Mike Sorensen. “We have been trying to come up with a buffer that is reasonable.”
Fuquay-Varina Commissioners are reviewing a proposal to reduce the buffers for tattoo parlors from 1,000 feet to 500 feet from a school or church. The buffer between a tattoo parlor and a residence would be 100 feet, under the draft changes.
In addition a 1,000 foot buffer would be in place between tattoo parlors, sexually-oriented businesses and electronic gaming cafes.
Buffers for a sexually-oriented business would be reduced from 1,000 feet from a residential property to 300 feet, and 500 feet from a church or school.
Electronic gaming cafes would be able to operate within 100 feet of residential properties, according to the proposal.
Commissioners understood the need for creating a reasonable ordinance but were concerned about the new buffer distances.
“I see what you are trying to do,” said Commissioner Cindy Sheldon. “But who defines what is reasonable? In my mind I, as a homeowner in Fuquay-Varina, I ask if I would like to have one of these establishments right by my home.”
Sheldon asked Sorensen to look at using a minimum buffer of 150, 200 or 300 feet.
But that may not be an option.
“We have so much residential it makes it difficult to come up with a reasonable buffer,” Sorensen said.
He presented a map Monday that highlighted about a dozen parcels where tattoo parlors, sexually-oriented businesses and electronic gaming cafes could locate under the proposed buffers.
Increasing the buffers zones would cut that list down significantly, he said.
Commissioners voted to table to issue until August 6.
In the meantime, Bissette was able to open his business – 401 Tattoo – at 706 N. Main Street. In February, the town’s board of adjustment granted his application for a variance. He was allowed to open his shop 800 feet within a church, despite the existing 1,000 foot buffer requirements.
Since then, commissioners stripped the board of adjustments’ authority to grant the variances for tattoo parlor, tattoo parlors, sexually-oriented businesses and electronic gaming cafes. This means the existing buffers are in place, without exception, until commissioners vote on the ordinance changes.