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OREM - A new charter school and a tattoo parlor are going to be next-door neighbors after all.

Utah County health officials have decided they don't have the authority to prevent the Noah Webster Academy from building next to Quality Tattoo and Body Piercing in east Orem - despite a 600-foot proximity rule.

"We've concluded we can't restrict them, so we will not hold them up based on their proximity to the body-art facility,” said Joseph Miner, executive director of the Utah County Health Department.

That decision doesn't satisfy Alyssa Tippetts, co-owner of Quality Tattoo. She worries about the schoolchildren's safety.

“We didn't want to be an exception to the rule because we agree with the law - a school should not be near a tattoo shop,” Tippetts said. “We don't want the children interacting with the types of people that come into our tattoo shop.”

The school would be at 205 E. 400 South and share a fence line with the tattoo parlor at 357 S. State Street.

Developers note school administrators have created a strict policy to keep students away from the tattoo parlor. They plan to prohibit children from approaching or leaving the school from the west, the direction of the tattoo shop.

A school staffer also will monitor the children outside.

“The school and the tattoo shop can both coexist in harmony,” said Rep. Jim Ferrin, R-Orem, a developer of the school. “The tattoo shop is going to be invisible to the school, and I believe the school is going to be largely invisible to the tattoo shop.”

Ferrin, who runs US Charter Development along with Rep. Mike Morley, R-Spanish Fork and former legislator Glenn Way, said the tattoo parlor doesn't even rank as the biggest safety concern.

“Forget the tattoo shop; we don't want [children] walking along State Street,” he said.

Tippetts disagrees. She said if she ever sells the shop, she will be unable to promise that the new owners run it to her standards.

“If something happens, who's going to be held liable?” Tippetts said. “It's not going to be us.”

The K-6 school is slated to open this fall, and administrators say enrollment is nearly full.

When finished, the school's front door will face the back door of Quality Tattoo. Ferrin said a wall will separate the two.

Though a variance granted by the county health department allows Tippetts and co-owner Jack to stay in business and eventually sell their shop without problems, they're not satisfied with the ruling.

Miner said Quality Tattoo can appeal the health department's decision to the county, but Tippetts and Eldredge plan to take their concerns to the state health director.

“We don't want to stand in the way of a school . . . we just care too much [about the children],” Tippetts said. “We should just be thrilled and shut up, but we do care.”