Battle brews over tattoo parlor

Published: Sep. 28, 2011 at 1:02 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2011 at 11:05 AM CDT
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NEW ROADS, LA (WAFB) - A battle is brewing in one small town over the opening of a tattoo parlor. An artist wants to start inking clients in his family's already established beauty business, but the mayor is against it.

Mayor Robert Myer of New Roads drew up an ordinance banning tattoo parlors and places that pierce anything more than their customer's ears. The ordinance surfaced right after Damon Manola applied for a license to tattoo in New Roads. The mayor's move has many people questioning his motives.

New Image has been a barber shop on Main Street in New Roads for 40 years. The owners' son has a slightly different talent than his parents. He is a tattoo artist.

"His idea was, 'I can pursue my hobby and I can do it with my family at the same time,'" said Jill Craft, Manola's attorney.

Manola hired Craft after he said the city of New Roads refused to grant him an occupation license to work inside his parent's shop.

The city council introduced an ordinance that would regulate tattoo and body-piercing businesses on Sept. 20, stating it is an emergency and is of extreme importance to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens.

Craft said her client is licensed by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. She added the mayor's ordinance is unconstitutional.

"It's no different than the mayor of New Roads saying, 'I don't like oil painting, so I'm going to ban oil painting in New Roads,'" Craft explained.

People who live in the town agree.

"I think they should have their own choices," Artemis Nelson. "We live in a world of choice."

Betty James, a longtime resident, said the mayor's move will only hurt the town.

"I think that is wrong," she said. "I mean, because if he has the means and if he wants to open a tattoo shop, if they don't do it here, they'll go to Baton Rouge."

James Thames owns a restaurant and barber shop in New Roads. He said he is concerned what the mayor's out-of-the-blue ordinance could mean for his business in the future.

"Let free enterprise ring," Thames said. "Everybody has his right to own their own business."

Craft sent the mayor a letter informing him her client will be at city hall in the morning to submit his application again. If the artist is denied, the matter could end up in federal court.

There will be a public hearing on the ordinance at the city's next meeting on Oct. 4.

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