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From illegal to restricted, tattoo shops see another change in rules

The rule requires all tattoo and piercing shops to be more than 1,000 feet apart.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — From illegal to restricted, tattoos have an interesting history in Columbia. More recently, a City of Columbia zoning ordinance worked in one tattoo shop's favor.

“All I know is this protects my business now," Born Again Tattoo Shop owner Sushil Patel said.

South Carolina has quite a restrictive history when it comes to tattoos. Patel would know.

“In 2010, that was the zoning requirement for the distance you had to be within from a church. And it was 1,000 feet from any church school or playground," he said.

In 2010, Patel tried to open a tattoo shop in a different area of town but because of those same restrictions, he had to opt for a different location.

In late 2021, a new ordinance was voted on and enforced by the City of Columbia. 

Hope Hasty is the zoning administrator for the City of Columbia.

"They have to be located 100 feet from a residential zoning district and also 1,000 feet from any other tattoo shop, and that includes body piercings, too,” Hasty said.

The ordinance negatively impacted some shops by not allowing them to expand. 

Patel said while this may negatively impact some shops, it saved his shop.

“It played in my favor, yes it did, big time," Patel said. "I’m so glad the city did what they did. It protected our business and, you know, to God be the glory. I put my hand up. 

Hasty adds this ordinance also impacts new businesses. In order to open a new tattoo or piercing shop the 1,000-foot rule must be obeyed. Tattoo shops are also restricted from operating near Fort Jackson.

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