Tattoo studio proposed for Barnum Avenue

STRATFORD – Despite strict regulations limiting tattoo studios, Barnum Avenue could soon be home to a new place to get inked.

Stratfour Ventures LLC is seeking Zoning Commission approval to open the studio in a 1,000-square-foot store at 1345 Barnum Ave., according to an application filed with the city.

If approved, the studio would be the second tattoo parlor to get the backing of city officials since they gave the green light plans last year to move Forest to Shore Gallery and Tattoo Studio on the former Little Red School of Art and Music property.

“We believe this location is an appropriate location,” Stratfour attorney Christopher Russo told the Board of Zoning Appeals in June. “We think it’s protected from the other tattoo shop, which is on the high street.”

Russo appeared before the appeals board to ask the body to drop what he called “outdated regulations” that prevent tattoo studios from operating within 1,000 feet of homes, churches, parks, playgrounds, libraries and schools.

He argued that the rules effectively prohibit new tattoo parlors because they restrict shops to a handful of locations where they would not be economically viable.

“I think tattoos are viewed differently than they were in 2003,” Russo said, referring to a nearly two-decade-old regulation by the city that treats tattoo parlors like other adult establishments. “It’s become much more common and much more accepted in society.”

Board President Gavin Forrester III, who was a member of the commission when it adopted the tattoo-related regulations, agreed with Russo. He said he was surprised the rules were still on the books.

“I think the Zoning Commission needs to look into it,” Forrester said.

The five-member appeals board unanimously approved the waiver request during its June 7 meeting. The proposal is now before the Zoning Commission, which is scheduled to review the application at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 24.

At the previous meeting, Russo said the studio will be managed by Orlando Rivera, the longtime operator of Latin Style, a popular hair salon and salon located in a storefront adjacent to the proposed tattoo parlor.

Russo said Stratfour Ventures decided to open a tattoo studio in part because of the strong interest from Latin Style’s loyal customer base, which he said included several members of the Stratford Police Department.

The single-storey commercial building, which also houses a subway, a CBD store and a couple of mobile phone shops, is owned by Stratfour Ventures. The company bought the building for $1.6 million in 2013, according to property records.

Russo said Rivera has already identified two tattoo artists to work at the shop. He said the artists have 20 and 25 years of experience in tattooing, respectively.

Patrons will make appointments with the artists before visiting for a consultation or tattoo. Russo said the studio will operate Tuesday through Saturday and close Sunday and Monday.

“The great thing about a tattoo parlor is that it’s really controlled in terms of how many people are there,” Russo said. “Sessions tend to be long, so there’s not a lot of back and forth, especially if someone has a more involved tattoo.”

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