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Tattoos still taboo in Collingswood

Borough zoning board rejects Haddon Avenue shop

The Collingswood zoning board has rejected a proposed tattoo business on Haddon Avenue.

The vote Wednesday night was 4-3 in favor, but five affirmatives are required to grant a use variance. The Collingswood zoning code prohibits tattoo shops everywhere in the borough.

Tattoo artist and Runnemede resident Jeff Miller, who sought the variance, told that the rejection is "a simple speed bump,"  adding, "I realize that the legal process is set up to prevent hasty decisions...I don't just expect to be handed the keys to the city."

Mayor Jim Maley said the borough is not ready for a tattoo shop in a prominent downtown location. "I respect the zoning board's decision," he told me.  "I don't disagree with their decision."

But there was plenty of disagreement on the community Facebook page "In the Wood," where tattoo shop supporters posted/vented about what one called a "1950s zoning board."

"The zoning boad is like the judge, jury and executioner," one woman said. "I'm not even into tattoos, but come on!" posted another.

All of the speakers at Wednesday's public hearing were in favor of the variance, said Haddon Avenue business owner Diane Marini, who was among them.  "I stated that I was excited [about] a new and different business near mine that would bring people into town," said Marini, whose "Cabinets of Collingswood" is about a block from the proposed tattoo shop. Those who voted no, she added, are "afraid of change."

Others were taken aback in light of the historical "dry" borough's recent embrace of a proposed craft brewery, a move that following an outpouring of grassroots support.

"I'd be surprised if the same thing didn't happen" with the tattoo ban, said musician and photographer Kevin Monko.