Aurora exploring tattoo parlor licensing

Updated 3/30/2012 12:35 PM

The 10 tattoo parlors in Aurora already are overseen by state and county health regulators to ensure they're sanitary and ready to deal with health emergencies.

Now the city is considering adding to that oversight.


The city council's finance committee has held preliminary discussions about requiring operators of tattooing or body-piercing establishments to apply for and receive a business license.

The license would cost $750 with a $250 yearly renewal fee, and applicants would have to have a physician or doctor of osteopathy on call during all hours of operation.

Creating a business license would allow the city to monitor tattoo parlors to ensure public health and safety is being protected, according to a memo from Ed Sieben, zoning administrator.

"One of the reasons we're actually requiring the business license is it does allow some review by the city," Sieben said.

But aldermen on the finance committee had some questions about how the license compares to other types of business licenses Aurora requires and whether a license could be mistaken for an endorsement from the city.

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"We have to make a judgment as to what we're accomplishing with this," said Alderman-at-Large Bob O'Connor, who leads the finance committee.

To apply for a license, a tattoo parlor must provide a copy of its certificate of registration from the Illinois Department of Public Health and documentation showing it has been inspected and approved by its county health department.

If the business license requirement is approved, applications would be reviewed by the city's chief financial officer, who would decide if the business meets all the licensing requirements.

Applicants could be denied for being less than 21 years old, for having been convicted of a felony within the past 10 years, for owing money to the city, or for operating an unsanitary or unsafe facility.


Aurora would be far from the first community to establish municipal oversight of tattoo parlors. City staff research of 26 area towns showed 11 -- including North Aurora, Villa Park and Winfield -- already require business licenses for tattooing, and four others -- including Des Plaines, Mount Prospect and Naperville -- regulate such establishments through their municipal codes.

Naperville, for example, has a code provision requiring all tattooing and body piercing be done by or in the presence of a physician or doctor of osteopathy and all infections resulting from tattooing must be reported to the county health department. Violating the code can bring a fine between $50 and $500.

"What Aurora is proposing is not so drastic," Sieben said.

Alderman Rick Lawrence, who is not a finance committee member, said Naperville's more restrictive approach is a better and more direct way to address health concerns related to tattooing.

"What is a license going to do when it comes to health?" Lawrence said. "If you're really concerned about it, and this is not just trying to tax an industry, then let's follow what Naperville did. To me, it's a simple thing to address."

The business license issue is set to be discussed again by the finance committee at 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, in city hall.

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