SCARBOROUGH, Maine — What was once an office for a property management company could become a more exotic location if the planning board approves a change of use request at its meeting Monday, Jan. 7.
Jason Chapman, who owns Hallowed Ground Body Art Studio on Congress Street in Portland, has requested a commercial reuse permit to move his studio to 287 Gorham Road, just north of the Maine Turnpike overpass.
The studio would actually make up about a third of the proposed retail space. Chapman would also like to open HB Exotics, a 1,400-square-foot store offering exotic pets and supplies.
Chapman is required to submit his plans for review because of a prior planning board requirement written into the 1996 approval for the former occupant, Stearns Property Services.
The planning board will be looking at the possible increases in traffic at the site because of the change to retail use, but a study by Gray-based consultants Gorrill-Palmer minimized the potential effects.
“[It] does not have a significant impact on the safety of the adjacent roadway system,” the study concluded.
According to submitted plans, the body art studio will specialize in intricate tattoo work taking at least five hours to complete. Chapman has more than 15 years business experience and a second body artist has 10 years experience. The studio, which could eventually employ two more artists, is regulated by town and state laws and ordinances.
HB Exotics would be managed by Rob Christian, who has been presenting education workshops and seminars on exotic animals for a decade, according to planning board documents.
Christian also plans to lead programs at local schools and perhaps use local students as interns at the shop. He is expected to be joined by one other part-time assistant, and about 650 square feet will “devoted to retail sales of some small exotic pets,” according to submitted plan documents.
HB Exotics is not expected to affect traffic flow significantly because customers would have already researched the pets and contacted the store about when to pick up animals and supplies.