Hoang Ott's wait to open her business in Aiken is over.
Aiken Body Contouring and Esthetics, the business Ott owns, recently held its grand opening in its new location at 861 Silver Bluff Road.
Body contouring involves the use of non-invasive devices to reduce body fat. Esthetics is the care of a person's skin.
Ott previously tried to open the business at 104 Florence St. S.W. but was denied due to an issue with the zoning of the building.
She leased the northern half of the Florence Street building in October from Dee Crawford and spent the next few months working with the relevant state licensing agencies to be able to operate her business there and upgrading the building to fit the business' needs.
Once Ott received permission from the state agencies, she learned that the building's zoning wouldn't allow her to operate there. So she asked for and received permission from the Crawford to petition the city to rezone the building to a type of zoning that would allow her to operate her business there.
The application to rezone the property was filed on May 4, according to paperwork later provided to the city council.
The city council unanimously rejected the rezoning request on June 27.
Ott said on a recent Sunday afternoon she felt the city council was leaning toward approving the zoning request but once they went into and returned from an executive session, everything changed.
The council entered executive session during its discussion of the request after Councilwoman Lessie B. Price asked Planning Director Marya Moultrie if the city council could grant the request and allow Ott to operate her business there by placing special conditions on the property.
Moultrie replied that this was possibly a legal question and deferred to City Attorney Gary Smith.
Smith said he would provide a legal briefing but would like to do it in executive session.
After a motion by Price and a second by Ed Woltz, the council entered executive session at 8:15 p.m. They exited executive session seven minutes later.
After returning, the council voted unanimously, 7-0, to deny the request.
Ott said she disagreed with the decision. She said the building and the parcel fit the criteria to allow for the rezoning request.
She called the denial soul crushing and humiliating.
"It was soul crushing in the sense that I have invested everything – all my savings – just to get it started over there," Ott said.
Once the city council denied the request, Ott said she didn't have many options left except to move, something she didn't want to do because of the added expense and the possibility of having to pay two leases.
She praised Crawford for being tremendous to work with and for understanding that she had done everything she could to stay.
Ott eventually rented the building located at 861 Silver Bluff Road.
She said the new building didn't require as many upgrades to make it serviceable.
Ott said, even if the city council had granted the request, she believed the neighbors would have made it a nightmare for her to operate the business on Florence Street.
For more information about the business, visit aikencontouring-esthetics.com.