Arlington Heights Plan Commission Recommends Approval of “Midwest Tattoo Therapy” on Wilke Rd with Conditions

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Google Street View car at Wilke Commons Strip Mall showing 19 North Wilke Road unit in Arlington Heights
Google Street View car at Wilke Commons Strip Mall showing 19 North Wilke Road unit (third from left) in Arlington Heights (Image capture October 2018 ©2021 Google).

The Village of Arlington Heights Plan Commission reviewed a proposal for a tattoo business named “Midwest Tattoo Therapy” at 19 North Wilke Road near the northeast corner of Wilke Road and Campbell Street in Arlington Heights in a B-2 existing zoning district (General Business District). A Land Use Variation is required because tattoo parlors are not listed as a permitted or special use within any zoning district in Arlington Heights.

The Staff Development Committee (SDC) reviewed the proposed Land Use Variation to allow a Tattoo Parlor use within the B-2 District and on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, and recommended approval of the application, subject to the two following items:

1. The facility shall be required to register with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) as a “Body Shop Establishment”, and will need to submit to the Village a copy of the inspection permit and registration from the IDPH that this location is a Body Art Establishment.

2. The petitioner shall comply with all Federal, State, and Village Codes, Regulations, and Policies.

The next step involves approval by the Village Board.

The address of the proposal is located at the Wilke Commons strip mall, and is the third unit from north side of the building, where a dentist’s office was formerly located. The strip mall is separated from a neighborhood of single-family homes by a wood fence to the north and east of the strip mall property. The neighborhood to the north and east is in a R-3, One-Family Dwelling District. Across Wilke Road to the west are Single Family Homes in the City of Rolling Meadows. A gas station with an automotive service center and a restaurant exists to the south of the Wilke Commons strip mall.

There is reported opposition to the proposed business by nearby neighbors in single-family residences.

The plan review summary by the plan commission stated that the character of use is consistent with the area and is not a concern. “Consistent use in an area” is one common litmus test used for disapproval of businesses such as tattoo parlors.

The Round 1 Plan Review Summary stated that lighting should be up to Village of Arlington Heights code. The exterior of the building should be illuminated especially during nighttime hours for safety, to deter criminal activity and increase surveillance/visibility — potentially reducing theft, trespassing, vandalism, underage drinking, and other criminal activity.

The plan review also stated there are no traffic problems, that the area is not a problem related to traffic accidents, and that the development “should not create any additional traffic problems.”

Landscaping should provide open sightlines to increase natural surveillance and avoid creating ambush locations and havens for illegal activities, such as theft, trespassing, vandalism, underage drinking and drug use etc., according to the plant commission.

Midwest Tattoo Therapy will need to submit a copy of the inspection permit from the Department of Public Health as well as the registration with the Department of Public Health that this location is a Body Art Establishment. All tattoos and piercings must be done by certified/licensed tattoo artists, and the facility is required to be registered with the Illinois Department of Public Health as a Body Art Establishment. The petitioner understands this requirement, including the need to submit a copy of the inspection permit from the Department of Public Health as well as the registration with the Department of Public Health that this location is a Body Art Establishment.

The subject site for the Midwest Tattoo is approximately 23,416 square feet in size (0.54 acres) and is improved with a multi-tenant one-story commercial building (“Wilke Commons”) of 6,720 square feet in size addressed as 7-23 North Wilke Road. Current tenants within the building are a hair salon, chiropractors office, tailor, vacant unit, and counseling office.

Access to the site comes from two full access curb cuts on Wilke Road, which is a four-lane secondary arterial with a striped center median. There is a parking area in front of the building that includes 32 parking stalls.

The unit at 19 N. Wilke, consisting of approximately 800 square feet, has recently been vacated by a dentist.

Midwest Tattoo Therapy floor plan at 19 North Wilke Road in Arlington Heights
Midwest Tattoo Therapy floor plan at 19 North Wilke Road in Arlington Heights.

Midwest Tattoo Therapy, which is currently located in Kildeer and is planning to relocate to Arlington Heights, is proposing reoccupation of the vacant unit previously occupied by a dentist. The unit would include space for up to four tattoo artists/apprentices. On Tuesday, August 3, 2021 there was no Google maps listing for Midwest Tattoo Therapy in Kildeer, but the business is apparently operated in an undisclosed salon unit. An official website announces “Coming Soon” with a link to Facebook (page not available) and Instagram (functioning with 1,085 followers on Tuesday morning August 3, 2021).

At the current location, the petitioner operates by “appointment only” and does approximately 40-60 tattoos per month, each tattoo taking anywhere from 30 minutes to eight hours depending on the level of complexity. Hours of operation would be noon to 10:00 p.m. on Monday-Thursday, and noon to midnight on Friday and Saturday (closed Sunday), according to . Services offered would include tattoo work, piercing, and training/apprenticeships.

The proposed hours of operation at Midwest Tattoo Therapy with approval would be Monday-Thursday 12pm-10pm, Friday-Saturday 12pm-12am and closed on Sundays.

According to the sole proprietor, Hector Barreiro, the rooms are already built (from the dental office configuration) to provide the artist and clients the privacy and comfort they are seeking. There will be four to six private rooms, three of these rooms will be equipped for tattooing and one room for piercing. In the shop there will be three to four artists including Barreiro. The majority of the piercings will be done by Hector Barreiro, or other certified and licensed piercers. The tattoos will also be done by certified/licensed tattoo artists as well as apprentices.

According to Hector Barreiro, the apprentices will undergo elaborate training and thorough explanation of the many processes of tattooing. The artists and piercers operating in this shop will be required to have an up to date blood borne pathogens certificate and will practice professional sanitation procedures. This includes the proper disposal of needles, the necessary barriers to protect both the artist and client, the proper set up and break down of a station before and after a tattoo session, and the proper sterilization of equipment with medical grade disinfectant cleaner. Details regarding how the disposed needles and contaminated biohazard materials would be removed from the property were not provided.

Midwest Tattoo Therapy Logo (SOURCE: Letterhead)
Midwest Tattoo Therapy Logo (SOURCE: Letterhead).

Apparently “Midwest Tattoo Therapy” does not provide officially medically recognized therapy, but in its name perhaps refers to an informal notion that getting a tattoo or getting inked is similar to therapy. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), degreed and licensed therapists involved with assessment and therapy can help someone better understand and cope with thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Professional Tattoo Artist is not listed by NAMI as a recognized professional in assessment and therapy.

Recognized therapists listed on the official NAMI website include Psychologists (with a Ph.D in a psychology field or Psy.D.); Counselors, Clinicians, and Therapists (with an M.S. or M.A. in a mental health-related field such as psychology, counseling psychology, marriage or family therapy); and Clinical Social Workers (with a MSW, Master’s Degree in social work).

According to NAMI, mental health care professionals involved in assessment and therapy can also offer guidance and help improve a person’s ability to achieve life goals. These mental health professionals may also help assess and diagnosis mental health conditions. Psychologists are licensed by licensure boards in each state. Licensure Certification for Counselors, Clinicians, and Therapists varies by specialty and state (e.g., LPC, Licensed Professional Counselor; LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist; LCADAC, Licensed Clinical Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselor). Licensure and credentials also exist for social workers (e.g., LICSW, Licensed Independent Social Workers; LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker; ACSW, Academy of Certified Social Worker).

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