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Article posted: 10/10/2013 4:34 PM

Elgin turns down Big Head tattoo shop

By Elena Ferrarin

The Elgin City Council turned down a proposed tattoo parlor that had elicited opposition from downtown business owners.

The council voted 5-4 to deny a permit for Big Head Tattoos at 210 DuPage St. Councilmembers Rich Dunne, Terry Gavin, John Prigge, Carol Rauschenberger and Mayor David Kaptain cast the "no" votes.

Last month, the business, owned by Marco Muniz of Streamwood, had secured a preliminary OK by the city council, also in a 5-4 vote. At that time, Dunne voted in favor.

Dunne said he couldn't do the same Wednesday because the ordinance up for a vote should have been updated to reflect that Big Head would not include an in-house art studio, as Muniz first proposed.

The building can't house the studio on the top floor because that floor is only accessible via a pull-down staircase, which would be in violation of city code, Community Development Director Marc Mylott said. He conducted a site inspection, along with the code enforcement and building development managers, in response to neighbors' complaints about potential zoning violations.

Corporation Counsel William Cogley said that, regardless of the wording of Wednesday's ordinance, Big Head would have to comply with city code. Still, that wasn't enough, Dunne said.

"The code department gave us a very messy ordinance and trying to correct that on the floor is not the way it's supposed to be done," he said. "Too many times I've seen our code department not follow through."

Dunne asked to table the issue for two weeks, but the idea didn't gain any traction. Councilmembers had already postponed their vote by one month so city staff could look into neighbors' complaints about the property.

Muniz's attorney, Scott Richmond, said he was extremely disappointed.

"At this point I'm not sure what they want," he said. "They obviously decided they didn't want this person running a tattoo parlor." He said he and his clients hadn't yet discussed their next course of action, if any.

Among those who had spoken against Big Head was Luke Clifford, who owns Topnotch Tattoos at 216 E. Chicago St.

"I'm not opposed to competition. What I'm opposed to is the clustering of competition on top of one another," he said.

Other business owners cited Elgin's plan to turn downtown into more of an arts and cultural center, which they said Big Head did not fit.

Last month, council members approved a conditional use permit for another tattoo parlor downtown, Funky Monkey at 73 S. Grove Ave. Councilmembers said they were OK with it because it's also an art gallery.

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