Jan 17, 2014 9:25 PM by Andy Koen
COLORADO SPRINGS - The City of Colorado Springs recently ordered a local marijuana club owner to stop operating because they believe he violated zoning ordinances. However, the business owner says marijuana is legal in the State of Colorado and that the city is infringing on his property rights.
Studio A64 is located at the intersection of Colorado and Wahsatch Avenues downtown. A video advertisement on their website touts the new freedom adults in the state enjoy to use marijuana.
Owner KC Stark explained that his business is actually a social club similar to the Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks or Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Members must pay annual dues and take oaths before being issued membership cards. They can then consume their own marijuana within the privacy of the building.
Stark said he opened Studio A64 to solve the problem of public consumption of marijuana under Amendment 64.
"Where can adults exercise their rights constitutionally, responsibly and pleasantly?" Stark asked.
Buying or selling marijuana is strictly prohibited in the club. Stark said anyone caught selling their stash will be kicked out.
Peter Wysocki, Director of Planning and Development for the City of Colorado Springs said the zoning enforcement office was notified that marijuana was being used in the building.
Zoning enforcement then contacted his office to clarify whether smoking marijuana was a permissible use for that building.
"We made a determination that it was not," Wysocki said.
Colorado Springs City Council voted last year to not license businesses as retail marijuana sellers. However, the ban doesn't address the issue of marijuana use in new or existing businesses.
"City code states that if a specific use in not permitted then it is prohibited," Wysocki said.
Stark believes his club is being targeted because of his outspoken views on legal marijuana.
"The people have changed the law," Stark said. "City Code is behind that change, we are in front and representing that change."
In fact, the City Sales Tax Office issued Stark a license last February to sell snacks, soft drinks and tobacco. When asked why the zoning conflict wasn't brought up during that process, Wysocki responded that his office never saw the application for review.
Stark can keep the club open while he appeals the zoning vilation to the zoning and planning commission. There will be a hearing on merits of the case February 20. If the planning commission rules against him, Stark can then appeal to City Council.
However, Wysocki points out that council has the power intervene at any time by writing new ordinances to address the conflict.
"Council can postpone action on the appeal and direct staff to draft an ordinance that would evaluate the merits or evaluate whether or not it would permit uses like that in the city."