Jillian Santiago wants to open Be The Canvas, a tattoo shop located in a small plaza along St. Petersburg Drive East in Oldsmar. She signed a three-year lease and started fixing up the shop.
But when she applied for a business license, the city declined.
"They told me no, that it was a restricted use," Santiago explained.
"I feel stereotyped. It feels bad," she added.
The shop sits inside Oldsmar's community redevelopment district, which allows only certain kinds of businesses. Tattoo shops are forbidden by law.
"Essentially, the city has to follow the law too. It's not just policy or procedure. In this case, there's laws that restrict what we can do and what we can allow," said Oldsmar city spokeswoman Ann Stephan.
Marciann McLane signed her lease for her pest control business around the same time as Santiago. She opened her store last week, while the tattoo shop sits unfinished and closed.
"It was very heartbreaking for her because she didn't expect it to be as rigid as it was," McLane said.
"Why I think it's very unfair and I think it's very sad. I think she should be given a chance. It's like saying that she is going to do something bad before anything ever happens," said Oldsmar resident Babe Wright.
Santiago, who has experience owning and operating a tattoo shop in another state, addressed the city council Tuesday night and hopes that a solution can be reached.
"I feel more hopeful because it feels like a lot of people are on my side," she said.
"She will definitely be given a fair opportunity. She just needs to go through the process of changing the ordinance," Stephan said.