By Sue Botos
After months of discussion, City Council closed the books on 2012 legislation with passage of an ordinance that, among other actions, sets the ground rules for the operation of tattoo establishments.
Placed on first reading in October 2012, the measure addresses several issues, including sound level restrictions, setback requirements and accessory structures like decks and fences.
The seeming potpourri of issues has the common thread of pertaining to the development code, according to ordinance sponsor Ward 3 Councilman Michael O’Donnell. “This may have taken longer, but it probably would have taken just as long to pass them as individual items,” he stated.
Law Director Andy Bemer agreed that while administrators considered a separate measure for the tattoo parlor portion, there was enough overlap with the other items to bundle them together. “There would have been a lot of redundancy and multiple meetings,” Bemer said. “(Building Commissioner) Kevin Beirne and I compared notes on a daily basis,” he added.
The tattoo legislation came in response to a September 2011 rejection by the Rocky River Planning Commission of a request by tattooist Harry Lawrence to open a shop at 20130 Center Ridge Road. Much of the discussion centered around whether such a business should be considered “local” or “general” business.
According to the newly passed legislation, tattoo and body piercing establishments fall under the “general” business category, which does not primarily serve those in the immediate area.
Tattoo shops must also be at least 500 feet from residential areas, schools and similar businesses. The legislation adds that a license, at a cost of $25, must be renewed yearly. Permanent records of patrons are to be kept, and annual health inspections conducted.
The issue of generator and air conditioner compressor noise was discussed at a previous meeting, and Bemer said that he and Beirne did not consider this a major problem. The legislation kept the general daytime noise maximum at 60 decibels for residences (50 at night), but the operating sound levels for air conditioners and generators was upped to 75 decibels. Bemer pointed out, however, that the newer generators are actually quieter than older models, and that updated air conditioners are less noticeable than old window units.
Bemer also noted the building boom in the city, where many residents are adding onto their homes, or constructing decks and patios. He said that it was important that homeowners don’t overbuild for their property, or create something that is a nuisance for neighbors.
The legislation states that decks and any “detached structure” can be no more than 3 feet high and 200 square feet in size. “We don’t want people to move to Avon because they want more house,” Bemer said. While it is important to keep young families in the city, he added that projects such as the Edwards Community development, to be built on the site of the old Rockport Shopping Center, will keep more mature residents here as well.
The issue of chain link fences also prompted some tweaking of code. After discussing the abolishment of unattractive chain link fences, Bemer said that the city started getting requests for variances from those with property abutting railroad tracks and other nonresidential land.
As a compromise, the newly passed legislation allows for chain link fencing, covered in synthetic material, in side and back yards, but with a maximum height of 4 feet as opposed to a 6-foot maximum for other types of backyard fences.
“The developmental master plan provides guidance, but is not the begin all and end all,” Bemer stated, adding that the best way to solve disputes is through communication with neighbors. “Talk to each other and see what you can figure out.”