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McHenry City Council rejects tattoo parlor's application

Published: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 5:02 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 10, 2014 6:52 a.m. CDT

McHENRY – A third tattoo parlor will not be opening in McHenry – at least not yet.

The McHenry City Council rejected in a 6-1 vote an application from Skin Rites Custom Tattoos, a tattoo and piercing shop looking for a temporary use permit so it can open ahead of receiving a formal variance.

Temporary use permits had been granted to three other tattoo parlors that have opened in the city in the past year and a half, including one a few doors down from Skin Rites proposed location that was owned by one of Skin Rites owners and has since closed.

All three businesses eventually received a thumbs up from the city's Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council for the more permanent variance.

This is the way Nathan Ryan, one of Skin Rites' owners, said he was told to proceed with the variance process.

His goal was to open a "higher end, completely artistic option" for those seeking tattoos and to provide, perhaps eventually for free, cover-up tattoos for those with gang or jailhouse tattoos.

"I am still not quite sure what happened at that meeting," Ryan said. "I don't know what might have happened behind the scenes, but to be almost unanimously voted down during what I was led to believe was a routine formality was a big shock to me."

But at least two of the aldermen – Aldermen Andy Glab and Victor Santi – said they don't think temporary use permits are the way types of businesses that aren't authorized under the zoning ordinance should get started.

"It's been a process that kind of supercedes how we run the city here in McHenry through our planning and zoning committee," Santi said. "I'm comfortable with the overall type of business that it is. It's just the process and how we've gone through these last three temporary use permits for tattoo parlors."

Alderwoman Geri Condon's objection centered more on the name of the business and its logo, which features the silhouette of a devil.

Ryan doesn't know what's next for his business; he's concerned that a variance application would meet the same resistance that the temporary use permit did.

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