Many South Buffalo residents have been clamoring for new businesses on Seneca Street.
But a tattoo parlor wasn't what they had in mind.
So when some residents heard about Robert Oliver's plan to open Hero's Inc. at 2423 Seneca St., they raised concerns.
"A tattoo parlor does draw a certain element into the neighborhood," insisted Judy Milligan, vice president of the South Buffalo Community Block Club.
"We need more clothing stores," said April Duke, the group's president. "We need shoe stores."
Because part of Seneca Street is a special business district, city planners and Common Council members have greater regulatory powers. Community concerns can weigh heavily in the city's decision to approve or reject new businesses.
Following extensive talks, there were indications Tuesday that most parties were satisfied with special conditions that Oliver has agreed to follow when he opens for business soon. One provision would see the parlor accept no new customers after 9 p.m. Also, South Council Member Michael P. Kearns put Oliver on notice that he will frequently monitor the business. If problems arise, the city could rescind its approval.
"These are acceptable conditions," Duke said as she left City Hall shortly after the Council's Legislation Committee supported the tattoo parlor.
The full Council is expected to approve the plan Tuesday.
But the owner of a nearby tattoo parlor on Seneca Street in West Seneca warned that the city could be sued by some building owners who had previously been barred from renting to such businesses. Jeff Punturiero said that while Oliver appears determined to run a respectable establishment, it doesn't change the fact that other reputable businesses were turned down. Punturiero said he was ready to work for someone in the 1990s who wanted to open a tattoo parlor in the special district.
Oliver eased neighborhood concerns by assuring residents that most customers would be booked by appointment. He added that some people's negative perception of the business are unfounded.
"Not all tattoo parlors have the bad stigma behind them," he said.
Tattoo artist David Digby, who moved here from Tennessee, has been hired to work at the shop.