Thanks to Jameson’s Irish Bar for their support.
West St. Paul is considering relaxing ordinances to allow for more tattoo and liquor shops. Both changes are likely minimal, so don’t expect tattoo and liquor drive thrus up and down Robert Street.
Expanding Liquor Stores
An existing liquor store wants to relocate to the Doddway Shopping Center. Currently liquor stores are allowed as a conditional use in the B3 and B4 zones but not in B2, which is what the Doddway Center is. City Council was open to tweaking the zoning ordinance to allow liquor stores in a B2 zoning district at a recent meeting.
A proposal is coming before the Planning Commission on Tuesday, May 18 to allow liquor stores in the B2 zoning district as a conditional use. The Smith/Dodd corridor is the largest B2 zone, though there are other small pockets such as Wentworth and Charlton as well as Marie and Oakdale.
West St. Paul does not currently limit the number of liquor stores, though there is a limit of six licenses for selling 3.2% alcohol (there are currently two: Walmart and Speedway). If there is concern about too many liquor stores, staff recommends implementing a maximum number of licenses for full liquor stores (currently there are six with a seventh planned: Cub Liquor, MGM Liquor, Nowak’s Liquor and Wine, R&B Liquor, Smith Liquors, Target, and the coming Hy-Vee).
City staff would not confirm if the existing liquor store wishing to relocate already resides within the city, though it seems likely it does.
Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on this topic on May 18 and it will also come before the City Council for a first reading on May 24 and a public hearing on June 14.
Relaxing Tattoo Restrictions
With a recent change removing microblading from the tattoo ordinance, City Council wanted to consider relaxing some of the other restrictions on tattoo shops. Currently West St. Paul doesn’t have any tattoo establishments, potentially because of the number of restrictions, including the number of tattoo shops allowed in the city (currently two), distance requirements, hours (as we outlined in our weird ordinances series), and a number of others.
Some of the restrictions were meant to ensure health and safety, but several were implemented to limit tattoo establishments. Council Member John Justen pushed for readdressing the restrictions and argued that the seedy image of tattoo parlors these ordinances were designed to limit are outdated. He pointed out that today’s tattoo shops are closely regulated by the state health department. Perceptions about tattoo establishments have changed and so city code should change as well.
Planning Commission will consider a proposal on Tuesday, May 18 to reduce the distance requirements for tattoo shops. The current ordinance prohibits tattoo establishments within 800 feet of residential zones, schools, churches, daycares, and other tattoo shops. That effectively allows only a single tattoo establishment in a very small area of the city:
The distance requirements for tattoo shops are similar to those of pawnshops and sexually oriented establishments. Ironically, while the code seems designed to limit pockets of “questionable” stores, these distance requirements would effectively group these stores together.
City staff have offered several several reduced-distance options and Planning Commission will make a recommendation. Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on May 18 and it will also come before the City Council for a first reading on May 24 and a public hearing on June 14.
May 19, 2021 Update: Planning Commission
Last night the Planning Commission met and looked at these issues. No one from the public spoke during the public hearing for either issue. Both items will go to the City Council for a first reading on May 24.
This conversation was the shorter of the two and Planning Commission voted unanimously to allow liquor stores in the B2 district as a conditional use.
The conversation centered on why tattoo businesses are unnecessarily stigmatized. While West St. Paul currently has no tattoo parlors, city staff said they did receive an inquiry about a tattoo shop coming in since this issue came up.
“If you can put a bar next to residential you should be able to have a tattoo parlor,” said Planning Commission Chair Samantha Green.
The Planning Commission voted unanimously to completely remove the 800-foot buffer, to allow tattoo shops in the B2 zoning district with a conditional use (they’re already allowed in B3 and B4), and to maintain a limit of two licenses.
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