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"A Maricopa County judge Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed against Mesa after its City Council denied permission for a tattoo parlor to open in early 2009.

Mesa City Attorney Debbie Spinner said Judge Larry Grant of Maricopa County Superior Court probably would not release a written ruling for several days, but he dismissed the case orally after each side presented arguments.

Angel Tattoo, operated by Ryan Coleman of Nice, France, and his wife, Laetitia, had sought permission to open a shop in Dobson Ranch in Mesa's southwestern corner.

The Colemans promised to implement a "good neighbor" policy that included not offering gang or racist tattoos, limited hours of operation and other concessions.

But several neighbors told the City Council in March 2009 that the shop was a bad fit for the area. The council agreed, with only Mayor Scott Smith voting to approve the application.

The Colemans sued Mesa in March of this year, claiming the council had violated their civil rights, demanding monetary damages and asking that the court force Mesa to allow the shop to open.

They cited as precedent a case where the owners of a tattoo shop successfully sued Tempe after the city revoked their permit.

But Dennis Kavanaugh, a lawyer who represents southwest Mesa on the City Council, said there is no comparison between the two cases.

"I have maintained that the city has had a solid legal position the entire time and that this claim is very different from the case in Tempe," Kavanaugh said.

In the Tempe case, the city granted a permit, then revoked it after the owner had already made considerable improvements to the property.

In the Mesa case, the Colemans made improvements to the property before any permits were issued.

"Mesa is not anti-tattoo parlor. Each case is decided on its own merits as well as the qualifications and behavior of the applicant."

Kavanaugh said that after the council's decision he offered to help Angel Tattoo find another location in the area, possibly in some new commercial buildings on the former site of a Motorola plant at Dobson and Broadway roads, about a mile and a half north of the Dobson Ranch location.

He said a representative of the tattoo parlor never responded to that offer. Michael Kielsky, the Colemans' lawyer, was not available for comment Wednesday afternoon.


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