Councilman Erik Yngstrom, seen here on election night in 2016, says he has “a bunch” of tattoos, and initiated the expansion of tattoo parlor zoning. (Click to enlarge.)


Once widely seen as evidence of moral decay, tattoos and pot may soon have a place among the nail salons, ice cream shops and restaurants in downtown Red Bank.

As proposed, medical marijuana dispensaries would be allowed in retail zones, and tattoo parlors would be allowed in additional zones. (Click to enlarge.)

At its semimonthly meeting Monday night, the borough council introduced an ordinance change to permit “tattoo establishments” to operate in a number of commercial zones, rather than only the one they’re now allowed in.

A second proposed change would allow “alternative treatment centers,” or medical marijuana dispensaries.

Tattoo businesses are now allowed only in the highway business zone, fronting on Newman Springs Road. In 2010, the planning board approved a change-of-use to allow a tattoo parlor to open behind a restaurant in a strip mall there, but the shop never opened.

The proposed amendment would strike down prohibitions on tattoo shops in five other business zones. They’d still be prohibited in all-residential zones.

Councilman Erik Yngstrom told redbankgreen that he initiated the tattoo amendment, raising it with downtown promotion agency Red Bank RiverCenter, which was at first reluctant but came around in support.

“Tattoo parlors aren’t what they used to be,” said Yngstrom, who added that he has “a bunch” of tattoos himself. With the “stigma” associated with in shops rapidly fading, tattoo salons in Asbury Park, for example, are “flourishing,” he said, and many of the skin artists are eager to do business here.

“A lot of the vacant buildings on Broad and Monmouth could be used as a tattoo parlor,” he said. “So I thought it would be a good way to get some of these vacancies filled.”

Business Administrator Ziad Shehady told redbankgreen that there are no pending applications to open tattoo shops in town, but “we’ve had some requests over the years.” The proposed change, he said, is part of an effort by the mayor and council “to be more business-friendly and encourage economic opportunity.”

Under state law, medical marijuana dispensaries are now permitted in only six locations in New Jersey, but Governor Phil Murphy’s administration plans to designate six more licensees. Unlike the existing operations, the new ones don’t have to be nonprofits, and they would be required to grow and sell their own weed.

Recreational marijuana sales and possession, meantime, remain illegal, though Murphy hopes to make them legal.

Should one of the new licensees wish to open in Red Bank, the council’s proposal would allow a dispensary to operate “in the various zones within the Borough that permit retail commercial uses,” but subject to restrictions imposed by state law, the proposed amendment says.

Both measures were referred to the planning board, which has 45 days review them for compliance with the Master Plan before sending them back to the council for a possible adoption vote. Neither, however, has elicited any resistance from elected officials.