Tattoo Shop Can't Open Because City Says It's Adult Entertainment

Posted at 7:58 PM, Jul 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-11 21:47:40-04

A Mt. Juliet tattoo artist was denied by the city two days before his business was set to open because the city defines tattoo shops as "adult entertainment."

With licensing from the state and permission from the county, Michael Lanning was hoping to open his new business, Division Street Tattoo Company, on Wednesday. However, due to a rule made in 2013 by Mt. Juliet commissioners, tattoo shops are in the same zoning category as adult bookstores, adult movie theaters and clubs, and cannot be opened in commercial areas.

"Everything that relates, basically to the porn category, and then at the very bottom is says tattoo and body piercings," said Lanning "So, why are we in that category?"

According to the ordinance, Adult Entertainment is defined as a commercial enterprise that offers sexually oriented materials, activities, adult clothing as well as any tattoo or body-piercing establishment.

While those businesses are not banned in Mt. Juliet, they are zoned as Industrial General and not commercial. 

Lanning said he has a state license and county permission, but doesn't have the approval at his the site of his business, which is in a shopping center at the corner of North Mt. Juliet Road and Division Street. It's ready to open as soon as the health department inspects it on Wednesday.

Lanning contends that tattoo shops are categorized incorrectly, and likely had no representation when the rule was made.

"There's nothing sexual about a tattoo," Lanning said. "The people who come to us, they come to us for closure. They come to us for celebration, they come to us for various reasons. They want to document something that has happened in their life. They do that with a body art."

A city spokesperson said Lanning didn't approach the city until Friday and the whole thing could've been avoided if he had just came to them before preparing the rest of the business.

They say Lanning has two options, to have the property owner of the shopping center apply for rezoning, or to change his business type.