In 2001, tattoo parlors were banned in downtown Plano. This week, the city council voted 5 – 3 to rezone the area, allowing for two tattoo parlors “by right.” More tattoo parlors can open downtown but need to apply for a special permit.

“It’s not uncommon at all across the city to allow for certain things by right – just go ahead and build it, get your building permit and anything else that’s required,” said council member Shelby Williams, who voted against the proposal, in a YouTube clip. “But you don’t actually need to rezone or go before planning and zoning and city council.” Requiring special use permit, or SUP, adds another step.

Williams’ concern was allowing two by-right tattoo parlors because that means downtown can always now have two tattoo shops. “What if one of them relocates?” Williams asked. “What if one of them has to shutter their business? And then, there’s a vacancy. And then, whoever is first to hang up their sign is the first to get that, and anybody else who comes on their heels has to go through the process of a SUP.” That means there’s an extra step for the shops that follow.

(Note that the special use permit is tied to the location. If a SUP is issued for a tattoo parlor and it goes out of business, another one can set up shop in the same space without applying for a special use permit.) 

As Local Profile previously reported, tattoo artist Jennifer Bailey told the Plano Planning and Zoning Commission in February 2022 about her plans for “an upscale tattoo and permanent cosmetics studio.” The planned location is in an empty space on K Avenue that was previously home to the long-shuttered Ashes Smokes and Tattoos.

According to Williams, he made a motion to amend in an effort to limit the by-right tattoo parlors to one and not force Bailey and her business partner to jump through more special-permit hoops with the zoning commission. “They did a great job of going around to all the other businesses in the downtown area and other people in garnering support,” said Williams. “I wish more of our zoning applicants would do this.” The motion to amend was not voted on, due to a lack of clarity among city council members on the amendment process. Williams ultimately voted against the rezoning. 

A 2001 Plano ordinance banned tattoo parlors from downtown but did not prevent stores from offering tattooing as a side business or “accessory” service. 

Brian Ashcraft

A native of North Texas, Brian Ashcraft previously lived in Japan for over two decades. He has authored six books, including the award-winning Japanese Whisky and The Japanese Sake Bible. Prior to joining...