When Chuk Högnell showed up at Tuesday night's public hearing five minutes late, he had almost missed the big moment he had been waiting for.
“They've got to be tired of dealing with this at this point,” he said. In ten minutes the vote passed to accept a different definition of “schools” that would allow tattoo parlor to begin business.
Instead of using the definition in the Village Code currently, the Board ruled (5 to 2) to pull an existing definition from the New York State Public Health Law, classifying schools by grade (pre-K through 12) rather than by age.
Some citizens had previously objected to the shop slated for the base of Neperan on account of its proximity to the , a beauty school and spa for adults. “It's the same few people,” Högnell said.
Two residents at this latest meeting objected to the legislation, saying that the law was being amended for a particular location.
One resident, in emails with Patch, has objected to the offensive photography initially placed in the shop window, which she says he had to be asked to remove (Högnell has said he removed it on his own accord).
This resident, who wished not to be named in this forum, also said his new sign with the Horseman logo (seen in the attached picture here) defies "the very code created for him," a law that stipulates he only post a business name in the window with no visuals. The signage issues, she said, speaks to her larger concern for the gap in local regulation. “The Village lacks the resources and personnel to supervise such an establishment on an ongoing basis,” she said.
Westchester County does not in fact regulate tattoo parlors. According to Village Administrator Michael Blau, the Board did not want to allow for such shops without some oversight, so they decided to comply with Rockland County laws. “We have a Rockland County staff member inspecting for us to assure compliance with the regulations," Blau said.
Högnell said his shop has passed its health inspection after two visits. The first time, he had to make some minor administrative adjustments like adding a 'No Smoking Sign' and a particular trash can. The follow-up appointment, he said, went without a hitch.
But there was a chicken-and-egg problem to deal with: in order to pass the Rockland County health inspection, a business has to have a Certificate of Occupancy. However, in Tarrytown a business can't get a C of O until the health inspection goes through. Horseman's inspection is good pending the C of O, which Högnell is faxing to Rockland, the final synchronized step before he can open at last.
Högnell always updates his would-be clientele with the shop's status on Facebook. He wrote, “Health inspection....check. TMHTco is now Westchester county's ONLY health dept. regulated studio. the dominoes are set and if they all fall as planned we have a projected opening date, so stay tuned kids don't touch that dial more news to come!”
The shop is slated for a “soft” opening on Friday and Saturday. But there won't be a tattoo inked until the bid for it ends on eBay. Högnell didn't want to have to pick favorites from the many who asked to be the first customer at his new location, so he put the privilege up for auction.
The current bid, after 29 bids to date, is $440 for up to four hours of any design of the winner's choosing. All proceeds of the auction to end on Sunday are to benefit the American Cancer Society, a cause close to his heart; Högnell lost his mother to cancer about 18 months ago.
“So you want the first tattoo? Here is your fair chance and its for a good cause,” Högnell wrote.
The building's landlord has given him a break thus far with lower rent, “so he'll be happy," Högnell said. Today will be Högnell's last day at the Mahopac studio where he currently works.
But one resident at least remains wary. “Mr. Högnell has often violated the very code created for him...and he is not even open yet. If he conducts himself in this manner up front, one must wonder what he does behind closed doors. His behavior has already shown what kind of neighbor he is.”
The Mighty Horseman will be open on Tuesdays - Sundays from noon to 7 p.m. (subject to change). (914) 372-7119, 15 Neperan Road.