"Soldier Town"? The horror!

Yesterday we opened up our local weekly newsrag to find this letter to the editor (please note the last sentence):

Tattoo parlor is in wrong location in Colonial Heights

To the Editor:

In a recent letter, Donna Delong asked, “Why is it OK for these establishments (tattoo parlors) to be on one end of the Boulevard and not the other?” There are two parts to the answer to her question. First, the new location of USA Tattoos is not on the Boulevard, but on Sherwood Drive, the primary access road to the Sherwood Hills residential community. Secondly, as with all real estate matters, the answer is location, location, location.

If this business were sited on the Boulevard, it would be just another establishment amid the commercial clutter. But on the access to the subdivision, it becomes part of our neighborhood, and conveys a (negative) message about the character of the residents.

Both Ms. Delong and Jan Childress, the owner of USA Tattoo, expressed surprise that some in Colonial Heights perceive tattoos negatively. But given the historical association of tattoos with the flouting of authority, gang violence, the biker subculture and prisons, I believe that the stigma is well earned. People who use their bodies as signboards are sending a message to anyone who sees their tattoos and they should not be surprised that some view their “ink” as narcissistic vanity. Ms Childress said, “We don’t intend to do anything to displease them in any way,” but establishing this “business” at the entrance to our neighborhood will most certainly cause a reduction in the value of our homes.

More important than the value of tattoos is the apparent inability of the city administration and city council to protect our properties and property values. They can legislate on signs, find a way to inspect (invade) private property that is offered for rent and police grass height, but they can’t control what I consider nuisance commercial operations. The payday loan, used car, pawn and tattoo operations that seem to be overrunning the Boulevard are a blight on this community, though they may be “legitimate” as Mayor John Wood said. Legal and desirable are not necessarily the same; unless one holds the opinion any commercial development is good development. Somehow, transforming a commercial operation from a doctor’s office to a tattoo parlor ought to be a change in use as defined in the zoning ordinances, and tattoo parlors, like other less desirable, though “legitimate” business, ought to be prohibited along the access roads to or within close proximity to neighborhoods.

Adult book stores and “Gentlemen’s Clubs” are also legal under the Code of Virginia. Given Wood’s and Delong’s standards, are we to expect these in Colonial Heights as well? City Council needs to act now to tighten the zoning laws, to prevent the expansion of Fort Lee from turning Colonial Heights into another “Soldier Town” in the pattern of Fayetteville, N.C. or Killeen, Texas.

Bob Haugh
Colonial Heights

I’ll bet you $50 this guy has a “Support the Troops” sticker on his car somewhere. But God forbid his precious Colonial Heights (which is no Beverly Hills, I might add) attract any of those icky uniformed types to his neighborhood. Egad!

Patrick (who didn’t grow up in Fayetteville as I did, but gets just as worked up about this stuff) fired off this letter to the editor:

To the Editor:

Bob Haugh recently wrote a letter in the Voice lamenting a tattoo parlor opening near a residential neighborhood. Good for him to use the freedom of the press to express his first amendment rights! I’m sure more people read what he had to say than saw the little duck inked on my ankle.

He did, however, lament Colonial Heights possibly turning into a “Soldier Town.” An odd choice of complaint, considering the origin of the town’s name. I can’t speak for Killeen, Texas, but I do know Fayetteville, N.C. and I’m guessing Bob hasn’t spent too much time there, or perhaps he was overcharged for a lap-dance one night. There are a bunch of soldiers in Fayetteville, sure, and some ignorant people, too. But as Mr. Haugh showed, they’re everywhere.

Fayetteville does have a few strip clubs, a few tattoo parlors, and a public house or two where people can escape the barracks and get a pint of beer. Queen Noor of Jordan didn’t seem to notice them when she was in Fayetteville to hear the symphony. My in-laws don’t pass them on the way to their favorite Turkish restaurant, and the 70,000 people who attend the annual International Festival don’t seem to mind. Heck, when I ran into Tom Clancy and Ross Perot at the $25 million Army museum downtown, they were raving about the place. President Kennedy didn’t complain, nor did President Johnson or either President Bush, about the All-American City. The dozens of national champion college sports teams are cool with the town, too. They probably like the professional basketball, hockey, baseball and football.

My wife and I love Colonial Heights, and we’re glad we moved here, but I agree with Mr. Haugh that there’s room for improvement. Maybe if we all try real hard, and enough soldiers move to Fort Lee, we can end up more like Fayetteville.

Patrick Tremblay
Colonial Heights

Do you see why I love this man?

One thought on “"Soldier Town"? The horror!”

  1. Rock on Patrick! Oh and by the way Sherwood Hills residents believe they are the bomb, so good for you for helping him realize that the pole in his rear should be removed!

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