OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Matt Stebly has won countless awards for his tattoos. They are a reflection of his talent and dedication to his craft. He considers himself a true artist.
He wants to relocate from a shop in St. Martin to a building on Government Street to open an art gallery and tattoo studio.
"We'll have some monthly art shows. Try and bring in some guest artists from other parts of the country," Stebly explained.
Those plans have been stymied by planning commissioners, leaving Stebly feeling like he's spinning his wheels.
"The opposition we've had has kind of been in key positions to kind of block our progression of the new shop," Stebly said.
What's certainly ironic about this situation is the doors at Stebly's leased building could opened as a bar or nightclub tomorrow. That's allowed under the city's zoning ordinance. In fact, a block further east on Government Street, that could be a tattoo parlor as well.
That has led to even more frustration for Stebly.
"The people that are opposed don't really have a reason. They just don't like it because they don't like tattoos," said Stebly.
He has turned to social media to find support.
"It's been positive. I can't remember how many it's been shared or commented on, but it's been quite a few," Stebly recalled.
So, what comes next for Stebly?
"It's either going to be appealed, or take a step back and kind of think of what we can do," said Stebly.
What he wants is really very simple.
"I just want to do my art, just in a different location. I'm not bothering anybody."
Stebly says he's not sure when he'll make a decision on the appeal. Meanwhile, renovations on the downtown building he has leased have stopped for the time being.