Update, 1:06 p.m.
Studio A64 owner KC Stark.
: Reached by text message, Stark had this to say: "It is an amazing day! 7-2 in favor. We won. I can hardly believe it. What a day. Historical in many ways."
———ORIGINAL POST ———
This morning, Colorado Springs Planning Commission
voted 7 to 2, with Robert Shonkwiler and John Henninger in opposition, to grant the appeal of KC Stark that his cannabis social club Studio A64
meets the downtown zoning requirements and should remain open.
The city has until March 3 to appeal the ruling to City Council.
We've previously covered the issue here
, but the gist is that Stark's landlord, Ken Brady
, received a cease-and-desist order late last year saying that the business did not meet the requirements within the downtown form-based code — some of the most flexible zoning regulations possible — and had to close. Stark appealed the ruling, but that hearing was delayed until today because his attorney, Charles Houghton
, was absent at the time.
Marijuana supporters, who consider the club a central meeting place and artistic hub, were outraged. However, from the beginning, the major question has been from whence did this action come?
, director of the city's planning department, originally told the commission that it originated with the code enforcement division of the police department. "I do not know if there was a complaint filed or simply through some police department investigation," he said.
After he arrived at the meeting, Tom Wasinger
, head of code enforcement, said the opposite, telling the commission that he believed "it was generated through meetings with the city planning department. ... It's one of those situations where there were probably a lot of emails going back and forth, a lot of higher-level discussions, above me."
In a follow-up email to the Indy
sent during the meeting, Wasinger clarified the problem: "Because Code Enforcement is temporarily handling land use violations until city planning can hire a land use inspector there will be issues where we are not sure where the complaint was generated," he wrote. "This does create a problem when it comes to who should initiate a complaint."
Either way, Commissioner Chuck Donley
found the report's origin problematic.
"In my experience, it’s always been a [common] line that code enforcement is handled on a complaint basis," Donley said. "It’s possible that it could be argued that staff is the complainant — I haven’t heard of that happening in the past. That’s troubling that the complaint came clearly from the administration."
This caused Wysocki to add near the end of the meeting that, "not saying we are being accused, but just to clean up the record," that "it wasn't a selective enforcement action" but instead a joint discussion between police, planning and the city attorney's office.
Asked via email if he would be appealing the decision, Wysocki responded: "At this point I do not know."