By an 8-1 vote the Carthage City Council approved a change to its zoning code that will allow tattoo studios in parts of the city zoned for general business instead of relegating them to areas zoned for adult entertainment. Another resident asks the council for help with feral cats around her home.

By an 8-1 vote the Carthage City Council approved a change to its zoning code that will allow tattoo studios in parts of the city zoned for general business instead of relegating them to areas zoned for adult entertainment.

Dawn Moheit, who with her husband, Kenny Moheit, asked for the change, said she became concerned as the discussion continued for several minutes in Tuesday's Council meeting before the vote was taken.

“I was confident until all of the discussion started, then suddenly my heart was in my throat I was so nervous,” Dawn Moheit said. “I was so thankful that we had (Council Member) Brady Beckham's support on this and I'm very honored by that. Now I've got to get my heart out of my throat before I go outside to jump for joy.”

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The discussion started when Council Member Darren Collier asked Beckham, who chaired the Public Works Committee meeting where the change was recommended, to describe the discussion the committee went through before coming to its verdict.

“I have gotten a little bit of feedback about this ordinance change, and while some of it was people saying they didn't realize there was an ordinance against it, other people were amused by it,” Collier said. “Unfortunately sometimes it's a little too easy to push the green button and roll on, so at this time, because we are repealing something that's been in place for about 22 years, I will put (Beckham) on the spot and just ask him to explain to the council just what went into this as far as changing the zoning and the health permits and things like that.”

Beckham described in detail the committee's discussion. He said the existing ordinances put “tattoo parlors” in zoning district AE, or adult entertainment, relegating them with adult book stores, massage parlors and other similar businesses, to heavy industrial areas.

He said many other cities, including Joplin and Webb City, have changed their ordinances to allow tattoo establishments in more traditional retail areas.

He said the committee could have recommended the Moheits pursue a special use permit, but they were concerned that would have set a precedent of allowing other businesses in the adult entertainment ordinance to pursue special use permits and get around the purpose of the zoning law.

They decided to take tattoo establishments out of the AE category and put it in district E, general business. That means tattoo studios would not be allowed in district D, local business.

“Local business often exists right next to or within a residential area,” Beckham said. “Pat's Books on Garrison, is a well known example, that's a D local business.”

He said the committee opted not to follow Joplin's lead of incorporating the state health and safety requirements in the city's codes because it was an unnecessary duplication of the statute and the Moheits would still have to follow the state requirements.

After the discussion, Council member Tim Shields said he still voted no because he still didn't know enough to be convinced the change was a good idea.

“It's been in the code for a long time as is and I just didn't see the reason for the change of district,” Shields said. “I'm just not well educated enough on this and the brief discussion in the meeting wasn't enough for me to make the decision to change it.”

After the meeting, Dawn Moheit said the couple has scheduled inspections to get their occupancy license and hopes to receive their state licenses by April 3 and open for business soon after that.


Feral cats

Earlier in the meeting, during the public comment period, Terri Hill, who recently purchased the home at 1165 S. Main St. with her mother Peggy Egan, asked council members to help her with a feral cat problem in her neighborhood.

She said a neighbor is feeding the cats and that's drawn them to the area around her home and they're causing significant property damage.

“They've ruined $3,000 worth of outdoor furniture by spraying on it,” Hill said. “We moved here from Phoenix, we had lots of outdoor, beautiful furniture. It's all been thrown away gentlemen, every bit of it, due to feral cats spraying on it.”

Hill said the cats are an environmental hazard killing billions of birds around the world.

Carthage Mayor Mike Harris recommended that Hill address the Council's Public Safety Committee about the cats and her concerns.