ALTON – For the second time, Chris Hinkle stood in front of the Alton City Council, waiting for the outcome of the requested special use permit needed to move his business, Grand Piasa Body Art and Art Supply to the C-4 District on E. Broadway.

The request has been a controversial one, to say the least. When the request was originally on the table back in April for a zoning change, the City Plan Commission sent a negative recommendation to the City Council to deny his request. The City Council voted on the call and rejected that recommendation adding an amendment that one tattoo parlor shall be approved for the C-4 district on East Broadway.

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Hinkle then had to stand before the City Plan Commission again to request a special use permit, which would allow him to purchase the building and make restorations. This time, it was a tie vote. However a tie vote still sends as a negative recommendation to the City Council.

So again, Hinkle stood before the City Council requesting the special use permit. After much discussion and debate, the vote for Chris Hinkle to be awarded a special use permit was granted.


After a long and strenuous campaign, attending numerous meetings, counteracting negative votes, rallying supporters and much legwork, Grand Piasa Body Art and Art Supply shop has officially been approved for business.

“I feel like a giant weight got lifted off of me,” said Hinkle. “I have a sense of direction now. Before, I felt like I was putting a lot of work into something and I didn’t know where the finish line was so at least now I know where the finish line is so I can run to it.”

City officials drafted specific restrictions that Hinkle has agreed to obey when restoring and operating out of the building. See below:

Restrictions on Special Use Permit at 558-560 E. Broadway

  1. The operation of the business allowed by this special use permit shall be done in accordance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws in accordance with the standard operating practices of this type of business.
  1. The exterior of the building shall appear the same as proposed in Exhibit C Revised.  One sign shall be located in the window and two signs shall appear on the awnings as shown.  In addition, one vinyl sign may be placed in the southwest corner of the building showing the art supply store and one vinyl sign may be placed on the east side of the building.  The special use permit holder may also place one vinyl “Hours of Operation” on or near each door on the Broadway side of the building.  
  1. The signs on the awnings may be lit during business hours, but shall not be lit during non-business hours. 
  1. Except for the signage listed previously, no additional signage shall appear in the windows.  No illuminated or neon signs inside the premises shall be visible from the outside of the premises.  This restriction does not prevent the petitioner from installing one neon lit “Open” sign.
  1. The color of the signage and awnings shall be the same, or closely similar, to the colors shown on Exhibit C Revised.
  1. The exterior of the building shall be the color of the brick below the existing paint.  In the event that removing the existing paint damages the brick, the exterior of the building may be painted earth tones.
  1. Except for the signage previously listed as permissible, no other attention getting signage or drawings indicating that the premises is a tattoo parlor is allowed.  No sample tattoo artwork or mannequins may be visible outside the building.  No signage may be placed on the north side of the building.
  1. Except for the landscape shown on Exhibit C Revised, no other temporary or permanent fixtures may be placed outside the tattoo parlor.  This includes, but is not limited to, chairs, tables, cigarette diffusers, trash cans, or any other fixture which may encourage loitering outside the property.
  1. In the event that the Grand Piasa Body Art and Artist Supply proposes changes to the external appearance of the building or ceases its operations and another tattoo parlor desires to locate at the subject property, any changes to the signage or exterior appearance of the building shall require an amendment to this special use permit.
  1. Because the external appearance of the property as it relates to tattoo parlors is regulated by this special use permit and the procedures governing amendments to special use permits, proposed changes to exterior of the building shall not be subject to the requirements of petitioning the Appearance Review Commission for review.  This exemption shall not apply to businesses unrelated to the operation of the tattoo parlor and its ancillary services.  Any changes that non-tattoo parlors propose to the exterior of the building shall be subject to review by the Appearance Review Commission or any other board possessing jurisdiction of appearance of structures in this area.
  1. Failure to comply with the above restrictions and conditions may be interpreted as a failure to comply with the regulations and restrictions of the special use permit.  If this occurs, the City of Alton may revoke the special use permit under the procedures outlined in 11-11-4(B). 

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 "Exhibit C Revised"

Hinkle says now, the next step is waiting on the bank to process the formalities and as soon as he gets the keys to the building, he will begin renovations. Hinkle is enthusiastic about his new adventure and will waste no time to get the ball rolling.

“My floor plan is simple, so there is really not too much to get done to open for business,” said Hinkle. “As long as I can get the people to do the exterior in a timely manner, I don’t see it taking more than two or three months to be said done and operating.”

Throughout this long process over the past few months, Hinkle has learned that the people of the River Bend area have a voice to be heard and is grateful for all the support.

“I’d like to thank everyone, especially Alton Main Street, Sarah McGibany, Alderman (Charles) Brake and all the local businesses that showed support, I couldn’t have done this without them,” said Hinkle. “Without that support, I don’t think it would’ve gone as far as it did. This victory is for the people of Alton. has covered Hinkle’s story from the very beginning. Click the links below to see the ascending articles the media team has published throughout his progression.


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