Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Noise law postponed; weed and The Studios win

With a 6-1 vote Tuesday night, the city commission placed its support behind two pending state bills to make it legal for someone to have up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants.

Commissioners also unanimously approved The Studios of Key West's plan to renovate a three-story building on Eaton Street as its new home.

But the much-anticipated final review of the proposed changes to the city's noise law fell flat. Commissioner Jimmy Weekley asked to delay the vote, asking for a special meeting devoted solely to the measure that would install stricter decibel limits.

Commissioners set an April 22 meeting date.

The weed discussion prompted Commissioner Tony Yaniz to point out that maybe someday the seven elected city leaders could gather at Old City Hall to "smoke a few joints and chill out," drawing laughs from the audience.

The lone dissenter on the weed vote was Commissioner Teri Johnston, who said it was a state-level issue. Weekley sponsored the measure. Voting yes were Mayor Craig Cates and Commissioners Clayton Lopez, Mark Rossi, Billy Wardlow, Weekley and Yaniz.

The marijuana issue was one of the quickest decisions to come from Tuesday night's meeting at Old City Hall, 510 Greene St., as the commission faced a packed agenda.

About 30 people waited three hours and 18 minutes before the commission got to their item: final city approval for the planned renovation of the former Masonic Lodge, 533 Eaton St., by the nonprofit The Studios of Key West.

"Thank you for all you do for the community, it's incredible," Cates said, noting that many of his relatives' names are on auditorium seats inside the 1950-era building. "You're all taking that and restoring it and continuing to use it. I applaud you."

"In the seven years of our existence, we've increased and improved the quality of our programs and extended our reach into the community," said Rosi Ware, chairwoman of The Studios' board.

To raise the bar even higher and provide more services to Key West, the nonprofit needs the new location, Ware said.

The nonprofit bought the three-story art deco-style building on Eaton Street last year for $2.2 million, and has been immersed in a multimillion dollar fundraising campaign ever since.

Its lease for the old Armory building, 600 White St., runs out July 31, and the nonprofit wants to reopen at the new location.

"We create opportunities for artists to do what they do in this city," said Jed Dodds, executive director of The Studios. "We connect with audiences. We're a pretty busy outfit; we work really hard and we enjoy what we do."


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