The Planning Commission, though not itching to make a decision on the issue for fear of rubbing some residents the wrong way, approved the zoning of a lice removal salon Tuesday under barber shops and beauty salons, though one commissioner had a problem with the designation.
While the issue of the proposed Ladybugs lice removal salon has stirred up a small breeze of controversy downtown, with opponents feeling that its proposed location on the 500 block of Main Street is too close to restaurants and clothing stores, only two opponents were present Tuesday to speak against the proposal.
“My concern is the appropriateness of the location,” said Heather Heathcote. “It feels totally out of place on the 500 block. I appreciate what they’re doing, but it’s not a good reflection on our community.”
Barbara Kapsalis agreed.
“I believe it’s a viable service,” she said. “I don’t feel it belongs on Main Street. I see it as a major ‘yuck’ factor.”
Mike Alford spoke in favor of the proposal.
“It’s a unique service that is going to bring money to us,” he said. “If we’re going to regulate lice, we’d better regulate the flea and tick services right next door to Family Kitchen. It’s like saying we don’t want any bars on Ferry Street.”
The commission watched a ten-minute YouTube video on lice removal using the same technique as the proposed Martinez salon will use.
Then the commission had to decide whether to allow the salon under the barber shop/beauty salon portion of the municipal code, or find some other designation, or prohibit the use all together. Other cities have a “personal services” designation, but Martinez has yet to adopt one, said contract planning staffer Dina Tasini. It was suggested adopting one Tuesday, but she pointed out that it would require a four to six month waiting time for a new ordinance to go into effect, and the applicants are ready to move forward now.
Commissioner Donna Allen pointed out that the state prohibits a licensed cosmetologist or barber from working on anyone who has lice. She suggested finding another designation to fit the operation under.
But commission chair Rachael Ford was strident in her belief that the commission’s role was far less limited than deciding if the use was the right fit for the building.
“This commission should not be used to decide which business goes in next door to which other business,” she said. “Who are we to decide someone can’t sell snake oil? That is not a commission issue, in my opinion.”
The commission voted to approve the classification within the barbershop/beauty salon designation, with Allen voting no.
There is a ten-day appeal period, but if no one appeals, the owners say they are ready to move forward.
“We still have plans to go in there,” said Sophia Deleuse. “It was a good outcome, definitely.”