's downtown cannabis social club, Studio A64
, has won its fight with the city of Colorado Springs
, with City Council tonight voting 5 to 3 in support of its continued existence. Council members Andy Pico, Merv Bennett and Don Knight were opposed, while Councilor Jill Gaebler was unable to vote due to missing previous testimony.
Continued operation looked all but assured when Stark successfully
appealed the initial closure notice to the planning commission, but the city administration appealed
that order to City Council, leading to a very angry Stark.
"I’m not here to beg for your acceptance — I demand it," the entrepreneur told Council, adding later: "You cannot take away my right, period. You are overstepping your authority.
"So, I’m not going to beg for your acceptance, because I don’t have to. I am equal. I don’t care if you like me, I don’t care if you smoke. I know my rights, and you will not take them away."
In voting in support of the club, Councilor Joel Miller
acknowledged that he had previously voted against recreational marijuana — "which many of you are still angry about" — but that "there’s a lot of things that we do that are legal that are not specifically listed in zoning code" and "consumption of marijuana is one of those ..."
Overshadowing the proceedings since the beginning is the question of why the complaint was brought in the first place. One councilor previously told the Indy
that it's thought Mayor Steve Bach
was behind the push to kill Studio A64, as no previous zoning-violation complaint, crime or infraction has ever been attributed to the facility.
It made for an outraged Stark, who addressed many of his comments to Council president Keith King
, who ultimately supported the club.
"First off, we begin with lies," he said prior to the vote. "There’s been no violence, no complaints, and there’s nobody here who can testify that they’ve been adversely affected. ...
"Put yourself in my shoes, Mr. King. What would you do? You would fight for your family and for your friends and for your investment and for those who visited. ... I’m angry, because I spent a lot of time and money, and here I am again defending myself against someone who isn’t even here. ... But you still want to hang me, so hang me high."
City staff were also directed by Council to come back with an ordinance offering some amount of regulation to similar facilities.