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Tattoo parlor permit fight

Lawton_A new tattoo parlor was supposed to be a hot topic on the Lawton City Council agenda Tuesday night but the parlor owner says council tabled Eden Tattoo on the agenda before the meeting even started. Now it's back to the drawing board for the tattoo studio.

   Mike Evans already owns one tattoo parlor in Lawton. He has hopes of expanding but an Oklahoma statute that says a tattoo shop cannot be within a 1,000 feet of a church stands in his way. It's a statute a district judge in Oklahoma County has already ruled as unconstitutional.

   When the judge made that ruling, Evans thought it opened up a much larger area of the city to him. "Where it's located at is the busiest intersection in Lawton, between Cache Road and Wal-Mart there. 70% of this town drives by that location at least once a week," said Evans. He's talking about the storefront he has already filled.

  Evans says he's put over $20,000 inside and outside. That's money he says he wouldn't have invested if he didn't get the go-ahead from a city staffer already. "Them telling me that I can go ahead with this project and that they're not going to enforce that whether that individual in permits had the authority to say that or not, he did say it," Evans said.

  Councilman Bob Shanklin said that he cannot speak for what the city employee said. But Councilman Randy Warren says, it's clear that current ordinance bans tattoo parlors within a 1,000 feet of a church, and the council can't overrule that ordinance. "A judge is going to have to be the one to decide this. A judge is going to have to tell us that in Comanche County they find it to be unconstitutional," said Warren.

  Evans plans to do exactly that. He'll take this one to a judge because he says he will open his tattoo shop in the location sooner or later. "[Wednesday] the City of Lawton should be getting a letter from my attorney and we're going to file suit against them. We're going to sue for punitive damages."

  The Council tabled indefinitely any action on the issue Tuesday night.

  The church near where Eden Tattoo hopes to open their doors is building a new church and will be moving in the coming year.

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