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Downtown No Longer Considered for Possible Tattoo Studio

The Peekskill City Council said they will not consider lifting the tattoo ban in the downtown zone.

The Peekskill City Council has discussed potentially lifting the ban on tattoo studios in the city for more than a year, but has not determined which zone would be most appropriate for such a business.

At last night's City Council work session the mayor and council decided that the following zones would not be considered for a tattoo studio:

  • Residential Zones
  • Downtown Business District Zone
  • Commercial Zones with a significant mix of Residential use
  • Planned Commercial Development Zone

The Council directed the staff to consider the following zones:

  • Industrial Zones
  • Manufacturing/Industrial Zones
  • Commercial (Shopping Center) Zones

These three zones include the area along Central Avenue and the waterfront, Beach and other shopping centers, the Hat Factory area, among others. See attached map. The areas in blue, purple and yellow are where the city may allow a tattoo studio.

While all council members and the mayor were supportive of bringing a tattoo studio back to the city, they had mixed opinions on where it should go. Allowing a tattoo studio in the city means the Council will have to approve a zoning change.

“The challenge becomes once you prohibit something and (want to bring it back) people live in the area and they have a lot of voice,” Mayor Mary Foster said, referring to the fact that downtown is a mixed commercial and residential area and some residents have the lift on the tattoo ban.

Councilman Darren Rigger emphasized what he saw as a business owner’s perspective that the downtown would be most attractive place to open a studio. Councilwoman Kathleen Talbot, while she said she would never get a tattoo herself, emphasized that tattoo art is not seen the same way as it was when she was younger and that the downtown seemed like a good location for a studio.

“This is considered art these days not like when I was a kid and motorcycle guys would line up for tattoos. Everybody seems to have a tattoo except for me…I think it should be someplace where it can be seen,” Talbot said.

The officials ultimately directed staff to consider the industrial, manufacturing and commercial areas and possibly look into splitting up the outlying downtown area or waterfront area zoning to come up with a location with which everyone would feel comfortable.

Patrick Conlon, the Peekskill tattoo artist who hopes to open a studio, has said that and not in industrial or manufacturing parts of the city.

The council will hold a public hearing on tattoo studio zoning in coming weeks.

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Where do you think a tattoo studio should go? Take our poll and discuss in the comments! 

Peter Goodson February 23, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Talk about jerking somebody around until after the election. There was no way they would give this guy a tattoo parlor. Claxton must not have a dog in this hunt. She stole the coffee house concept from the guy's wife so there must not be a tattoo artist in her family. Patty makes a good point - what "concessions"must be made to Foster, Claxton & Rigger to get a zoning change? They already let their friends have plenty of illegal apartments in the downtown - from the underground railroad lady to the entire upper floors of the former dance studio on South St. - they are packed with illegal dwellings and offices. Their friends get zoning changes like what was done for the deli owner on the corner of South/Nelson. Their friends get all the money of the building grants. Where does this all end? Is anybody watching besides Patty?
Monk E. Lopez February 23, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I have my butt zoned for a prospective tattoo of Mary Foster.
Patty Villanova February 23, 2012 at 08:16 PM
People are watching but most are either too tired or too afraid to speak up- and Foster, Klaxton, et al know it. To my knowledge there was very vocal opposition to the tattoo artist from none other than Mr. & Mrs. Klaxton. There were rumors that the location was to be somewhere in the vicinity of the Coffeehouse in the Flat Iron District. Again, how could that possibly be worse than what's happening just around the corner? And why was it that a zoning change had to be made in order to set up the business in the first place? Deny it if you will, but Peekskill is still a part of the USA, even if it does look more and more like the Third World every day; the tattoo artist has certain civil rights that are as valid as any asserted by Mr. Davis and his crew. Maybe there's another lawsuit in Peekskill's future.
Monk E. Lopez February 23, 2012 at 08:28 PM
If the tattoo artist was named Jose or Pedro, there would have been a ribbon-cutting already. Note to artist: change name to Jose or Pedro and give discounts on Guatemalan flag tattoos.
S Roberts February 24, 2012 at 12:41 AM
It's amazing to me that the city of Peekskill would fight so hard against a downtown tattoo shop of an absolutely amazing LOCAL ARTIST. When Peekskill is supposed to support the arts. Considering the fact that like few others have mentioned on here about the variety stores and other fronts. This creative and talented Local artist has an amazing following and would bring so many new patrons to Peekskill. This would be the best addition to Peekskill in a long time.
Scott Sailor February 24, 2012 at 02:37 PM
It is impossible to believe that logic or fairness had anything to do with this decision. The claim that many had spoken against is overwhelmingly refuted by the fact that so many more spoke for it. The poll here from months ago showed 230 persons of 291 were solidly for it, another 20 persons said yes but only for commercial areas, and just 41 were opposed. Have there ever even been that many respondents to a poll on this forum before? I see a lot of people in town through my business the Bruised Apple and I've met no one who was opposed to this. I also like the irony, mentioned here in a previous article on the subject, that the Italian Festival fundraiser for the nearby downtown Assumption Church had a fake tattooing parlour. Congratulations to the new council members Rigger and Talbot who, it seems from the article, were in favor of the tattoo studio in the downtown. Scott Sailor
Scott Sailor February 24, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Back in the 90s there was a studio named Zahra's Studio on the second floor of a Division st building. Keith Zahra was a tattooist as well as a painter and muralist. Because of Peekskill's anti-tattooing stance he went instead to Beacon when he was ready to expand and open a first floor gallery space. His studio there was popular, dynamic, and intrumental in Beacon's fast rennaissance. This is a good example of why Beacon has attracted so many more young artists, fresh talent, and boutique shops in a time frame much faster than Peekskill, which is ironic considering Peekskill was promoting itself as an artist district for far longer. Peekskill is perhaps more of an artist's retirement community. It has been sad to have seen so many interesting arts related and boutique shops, as well as people, leave Peekskill over the years due to uncool restrictions like this. Scott Sailor
Patty Villanova February 24, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Scott- you hit the nail on the head with both of your posts. As you know my shop is closed due to all the renovations. The jury is still out as whether or not I'm coming back to Peekskill with my boutique. As it stands now Bruised Apple, Arthur Weeks, and the Coop may very well be the last remaining legitimate retail businesses in the Downtown, with the emphasis being on "legitimate". The more I look around at other towns while deciding what to do, the more appalled and disgusted I am at the self serving actions of the city council that includes people whom I once [foolishly] supported and who have gravely disappointed me. I will say it again: PEEKSKILL COULD BE THE BEST SMALL CITY ON THE HUDSON. WE HAVE IT ALL: FABULOUS GEOGRAPHY, A RIVERFRONT, A BEAUTIFUL DOWNTOWN, INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORTATION. Yet we are going backwards and things are getting worse not better. Yes, look at Beacon for example. They are further away from NYC and are not as well situated as Peekskill, yet businesses there are thriving because there isn't the political corruption that you have in the 'skills. It makes me sad to think that I may not come back to the city I grew up with, but I don't know if I can invest another 7 years of my life in a place where the rulers are so hostile to small independent business owners, especially the ones with big mouths.
happypatcher February 24, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Patty, unless you have some lap dancers in your back room, you are out of your mind to reopen in Peekskill. IF "Fast Jimmy S" our new economic development specialist stops blowing smoke and puts in the time and work it will take to turn the downtown around (which will be no small task) then come back, in the mean time go find a town with money and street traffic, I suspect all the things you mentioned did not put enough feet in your store. I would give somewhere else a chance. There is a reason stores like Trader Joe's or Turco's do not open in Peekskill. Go Red Devils!
Monk E. Lopez February 24, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Unfortunately the downtown is not zoned for lap dancers. Impeach Fary Moster!
Tina Bongar February 24, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Thank you Scott Sailor for making all the solid logical points about the nonense reasons of the Mayor and Council! Note too, how they act like they've never attempted to write and enact such a complex zoning issue when they seem fine with changing every rule in the code when it comes to emminent domain. What a huge disappointment they are. Like Scott said, They're ignoring why we need this tattoo parlor in our downtown -- here is a renown tattoo artist who people travel to NYC for his work, offering our downtown the opportunity, an artist's district no less!, the chance for creative people, shopper's, artist's traffic. AND, most of all, young people!!! I mean, come on. This is all about politics, the worst, most conservative kind. I'm convinced that, with this and emminent domain, our current Mayor is the best conservative Republican Mayor Peekskill has ever had-- because she's convinced all the Democrats to vote for her. Listen to "political parsing" sometime -- she never comprehensively answers a question. I was at a Common Council Work Session and she kept saying, oh yes, I support the Tatoo parlor, it's just the zoning law, etc. Now the artist has given them appropriate zoning language and laws that ensures that the tattoo artists from Mohegan Lake won't open shop. Anyway, let's try and get out to the Public Hearing and support this artist and coffee house owner. Please let your friends know, need biz owners and renters downtown to make a good showing.
Brian Stafford February 24, 2012 at 04:55 PM
With seemingly every third first floor storefront in Peekskill closed and desperate for new tenants, it's astounding some twisted and repressed Eisenhower-era morality is being flaunted as the reason to keep an artist out of downtown Peekskill. Perhaps it's more sinister than that. Where's the economic development staff? Isn't Peekskill supposed to be the city of artists? Tattoo studios are no longer unclean, mob-run places serving up Hep-C. Keeping a local artist-resident from opening a legit (not to mention artistic) business downtown just drives that artist to open in another town with a more business-friendly local government. If Peekskill's government moved more quickly, even despite the continued recession, the rebranding of the town as an arts community wouldn't be limping along.
Brian Stafford February 24, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I agree, happypatcher. A Trader Joe's would explode in downtown Peekskill. To hit a Trader Joe's now you have to drive to White Plains or Eastchester. Their pricing and reasonably healthy food would help many groups of residents in the downtown area. Hey, Fast Jimmy Slaughter! Are you listening?
Scott Sailor February 24, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Re: Trader Joes. The survey consultants recently hired by the city made it clear that most chains are unlikely to open in Peekskill. Trader Joe's in particular was mentioned by way of illustration. The consultant, who had personal experience with Trader Joes, said their formula includes both income and education level requirements. Peekskill's income was at that the bottom but the education level was so far below that it was an impossibility, she said. She suggested the city reach out to independents and mentioned contacting successful similar businesses like the Peekskill Market (C-Town) to interest them in opening second more specialty locations perhaps.
Branwen MacDonald February 26, 2012 at 10:00 PM
This is really too bad. Patrick is an outstanding artist and his studio would have brought a welcome dimension to the downtown arts scene. Why be in office if you can't make positive changes to outdated laws like this one? By the way, I don't have or want any tattoos.
Sunny Cover March 01, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Wow!  Thank you to all of the voices here.  This is truly unbelievable!  For a tattoo shop to try to fill a 10,000 sq ft space in the industrial zones is ludicrous.  The Hat Factory is one of my favorite places in Peekskill but not for a retail/service business, clients coming up from the city on train would have a hard time accessing.  Oh and then there is always the beach shopping center, again spaces too big, rent too expensive and not quite the awesome tattoo ART studio we were thinking of.  We have over 600 people that signed a petition in favor of a Tattoo Business in Peekskill.  We are not performing witchcraft, no need to throw us into the woods to hide what we are doing.  APRIL 9 th...... Citizens unite for ART!   We will be there in full force!
shara shisheboran March 01, 2012 at 01:00 PM
This is so upsetting.
Patty Villanova March 01, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Sunny- I hear that the tattoo artist is your husband so I fully understand how happy you must be at all the vocal support he is receiving here on the pages of Patch. However, there is a dark side to this issue that concerns me, namely the fear of retribution that all of us face who dare to publicly go up against the political establishment of Peekskill. My shop was (and may still be) up the block from yours and because of my big mouth I received numerous parking tickets, tickets for my signage, anonymous threatening letters, etc. I tried to get the other merchants involved but mostly everyone was afraid of reprisals & for good reasons. You can get sued for speaking out and when that happens it ain't pretty. Now that your eyes have been opened as just how vicious the Regime can be, I hope that you will not remain silent once this battle is over. You want citizens too unite for art, I want them to unite for FREEDOM and TAXPAYER JUSTICE.
M. Damian March 01, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Forget the council, which sounds like a thuggish institution rife with corruption and inside politics. This matter should be settled with a lawsuit against the City of Peekskill and the City Council itself; if necessary, appeal until it reaches a court that will listen. Pandering to the mayor and her cronies is getting exactly nowhere.
Patrick Conlon March 01, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Thanks for all of the support! I must admit I am just as mystified as everyone else. It will be two years this month since I have brought this the table.During this time, when ever I mention that tattooing is banned in Peekskill I get the same incredulous expression! I'm still not sure where the major opposition is. Yes I realize there are folks out there that have no interest in this art form and opening a studio in your residential neighborhood would just be stupid! The C2 district is the artist's district. Am I missing something here? Drew Claxton was concerned about assumption Church because "they were there first". I reached out to the church to hear their concerns and many of them were the usual misconceptions(tattoos promoting drugs, gangs,blah,blah) and through a pleasant discussion with Pastor Higgins, most fears were belayed. Also more than half the people I tattoo choose to adorn themselves with positive, love inspired, or spiritual imagery: children's names , Jesus, angels, countless rosary beads! We spent a lot of time composing the law that would allow tattooing in practical areas of Peekskill with public safety and quality of life a major concern. We are seriously uninterested in opening the floodgates for a debauchery themed downtown so we drafted a version that attracts quality artists. Again, I am stumped by a few folks on the council that are timid to let this go through in a respective and beneficial way to Peekskill.Join me on April 9th if you agree!
Patty Villanova March 01, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Patrick- I have seen your paintings at the Coffeehouse and you are an incredibly talented artist. Rest assured that there's more here than meets the eye & one can only wonder what is the constituency/ voting bloc that Foster & Co. are trying to appease by depriving you of your Constitutionally protected rights. However, you seem a bit naive when it comes to the bloodsport that is local politics. The decision to prohibit your tattoo shop is based not on reason and logic but on the ongoing corruption and cronyism that exists not just in P-skill but throughout Westchester & Putnam. Think carefully and tell us why you think they're really against a win-win situation. It's a good first step to rally vocal public support; perhaps you should reach out to Mr. Darrel Davis who's been quite successful dealing with City Hall.
Patrick Conlon March 01, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Thanks Patty. Definitely exploring all of my options. This isn't over yet, and hoping the power of the people will prevail!
Patty Villanova March 01, 2012 at 07:02 PM
At this point the Power of the People seems to be your only hope! You must remember that the politicos of both parties who are running things have an entirely different agenda than what they claim to have for the Downtown. In the 7 years I've had my shop, I've seen it firsthand and so can anyone else with eyes in their head. The last thing this administration wants is another small independent business-- especially one whose owner is willing to get up and fight. For them to turn against you at this point makes me think you might have more mojo/ cojones than they bargained for. Keep going, don't give up. Try to get outside big media involved in this including NYT and TV. It's a really great story.
Jessica Jaroff March 02, 2012 at 03:15 AM
I am with Patrick on this issue 100%. Having been tattooed by him i know first hand his message, and beauty that is conveyed through his art. Whether it be on a canvas or a body, who cares! Put that shop downtown, Peekskill hot shots! You don't know how lovely it will be... -Jessica Jaroff of Peekskill.
alex March 02, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Mary foster and the so called good council sucks running peekskill this town will soon have no interest and no talent .just call peekskill a well fair town .thank the fosters ...
John Q. Public March 03, 2012 at 02:28 AM
What authority gives the City to regulate tatoo parlors? Why not get rid of alleged locksmiths at 810 South Street, and all dry cleaners on South Street? Is the issue this business didn't give Foster enough payola?
Carol Jencks March 04, 2012 at 10:13 PM
I am following this story on facebook and it is just unbelievable to me that this is happening in New York. I live in Abilene,Texas, a very conservative town that is called the "buckle" of the Bible Belt. We have several very nice Tattoo Studios in our downtown area and I have not heard of a single problem that this has caused. Wish I could be there to offer my support in person.
John Q. Public March 04, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Foster and Claxton are not credible on this issue. There was huge public support for Target. They killed it. There was huge public support for Downtown redevelopment. They killed it. There was huge support for the Waterfront. They killed it. There was huge public support for making Centennial Hose a historic place. They destroyed it through inaction. Someone has branded them the Party of No which is quite right. They have said No to fiscal responsibility and our City is teetering on the bridge of insolvency. They have said no to preserving the City's unreserved fund balance. They have said No to protecting private property rights. The only thing they've supported is destroying morale in City Hall, encouraging retaliation for anyone who speaks out for what is right, and making taxpayers pay to feed them as they sit at the helm of the Titantic they have created, awaiting their ultimate goal, the decimation of Peekskill's middle class who pays the bills.
Patty Villanova March 05, 2012 at 02:41 AM
JQP is right on the money-- the Powers that Be (of both parties) want nothing more than to encourage debt, dependency and decay for our once fair city. Look around and ask- why is it that Peekskill continues to take one step forward and 3 steps back when our neighbors to the north, Cold Spring and Beacon, are thriving? Why has our magnificent downtown been allowed to turn into a landscape that seems more like something you'd see in a Third World country? There is no mystery as to why there's virtually no retail left- just look at the foot traffic, the people who are walking by our stores on a daily basis. Except for tourists and out of towners, most of these people have little or no disposable income; most of them are on some kind of public assistance and are not interested in shopping or dining in town. The middle and upper middle class residents do not shop in Peekskill and why should they-- you can get everything you want over on Route 6 without having to worry about getting a parking ticket. I believe that this has all been deliberate and it didn't just start with Foster and Testa- it's been going on for quite some time. There's more Federal and state money for the corrupto-crats servicing the needs of the poor and downtrodden than will ever be generated by legitimate businesses.
Ian March 23, 2012 at 02:23 AM
It is a shame Patrick was not able to open a tattoo parlor. He's a great guy and very community-minded.

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