Nail Salon Owners to Town: No More Nail Salons

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A group of nail salon owners and workers say there are too many such businesses in New Canaan and they’re urging the town to limit the number of them, officials say.

About a dozen salon representatives came to Town Hall this month to meet with the town planner about regulating the number of nail salons in New Canaan, such as through a moratorium, according to a memo issued by Town Planner Lynn Brooks Avni ahead of Tuesday night’s meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission. 

“The nail salon owners did note that the additional wellness boutiques that are opening in the downtown also provide similar services,” Brooks Avni said in the memo. “From a land use perspective it would be difficult to justify a moratorium on nail salons. Several boutique wellness studios have opened downtown as a result of the innovative legislation adopted by this Commission at its April 2018 meeting which included ‘wellness activities’ in the definition of ‘Personal Service Establishments.’ These boutique wellness studios have occupied what were previously vacant storefronts in the downtown.”

She referred to P&Z’s decision to amend the regulations so that service businesses could occupy street-level commercial spaces on Main and Elm Streets so long as they have a retail section in front.

A Google search of “nail salon” in New Canaan returns 18 businesses, including spas that offer nail-related services.

According to Brooks Avni, the nail salon owners asserted—incorrectly, it seems—that Darien and Greenwich have set a limit on the number of such businesses allowed in those towns.

Even so, officials in the New Canaan Health Department said there is legislation under consideration at the state level that could help regulate nail salons with respect to licensure requirements for staff.

As the traditional retail businesses close or downsize in the face of rising online commerce, some have expressed fears of vacant storefronts, Brooks Avni said in her memo.

“Limiting any type of already permitted use could further increase the vacancy rate,” she said in the memo. “There may be some level of a market economy at play and the situation may self-regulate. Alternatively, if the Commission desires we could consider a comprehensive review of the downtown regulations which could focus on the intersection of retail, office and residential uses.”

It isn’t clear whether P&Z will take up a discussion of nail salons at its regular meeting, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Town Hall.

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