ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — On Wednesday, a St. Pete business owner will ask the city to change its zoning laws so she can keep working out of her home.
“I've worked for this for five years. I love my job, I love what I do, and I've worked so hard to get here. I can't quit,” said Emily Hedrick, a permanent makeup artist.
Hedrick owns a permanent makeup business, tattooing lips, brows and more. She also offers nipple tattooing for breast cancer survivors after reconstruction surgery.
Hedrick says she bought her home two years ago, specifically because it was zoned for mixed-use.
Her home business was cleared as a "beauty and makeup service," but recently, a different zoning officer classified the business as a tattoo parlor, which technically means she's operating illegally.
Hedrick says she feels the city's zoning laws are outdated and don’t reflect the growth of the beauty industry. She also says this impacts about a dozen other St. Pete businesses like hers.
“So if this interpretation of the code does not get changed, we'll all have to close our doors unfortunately and relocate,” said Hedrick.
We wanted to go in-depth on this issue, so we spoke to a local attorney. He told us he feels the zoning laws may not reflect the current state of the beauty industry and don't distinguish between permanent makeup and tattoo parlors.
“You want to distinguish what's being done for the underlying safety of the consumers and that's the whole underlying basis for these zoning laws, having these codes for cities to enforce,” said Charles Gallagher, an attorney at Gallagher and Associates Law Firm.
Hedrick says the city's zoning laws surrounding tattooing haven't been updated since 1977.
Hedrick has three hearings with the city. On Wednesday, the development review board passed the zoning law. The next hearing is set for May 13 with the city council.
We’ll update you once we get word of how those hearings go.