We have to keep fighting or we will have nothing to show for 25 years of non-stop hard work and passion. We have to keep fighting so no other business has to endure the financial and emotional devastation we have been through. If The City can do this to us, they can do this to any other business in town. This has to stop. We need to get our town back. We have been open in Creede for 15 years and have never had an issue until the new City Manager was hired.
Kip's Grill has depleted their resources to continue this legal battle. To date, they have spent all of their hard earned savings accumulated over the past 25 years, almost $300,000. They need financial help to fight The City's latest appeal and for the trial that is set for next August. Kip's Grill is confident it will prevail but it is going to take time and money. Your support, no matter how much you can give, is so incredibly appreciated. We literally cannot do this without all of you. Thank you for your support over the last 25 years and thank you for your support now. If we win and we are able to get our attorney fees paid back, we will refund your monies to the extent that we are able. We are not trying to make any money off of this. We literally just want our lives back.
If you would like more information, here is the full story:
Since July of 2019, The City of Creede has been on a mission to deny the Kip’s Grill liquor license and get our building shut down. According to The City Manager, Louis Fineberg, this started because a citizen of Creede was concerned that we had only one form of egress from our second story. Months later, he testified under oath that he was the one who noticed there was only one egress. That one means of egress was permitted and approved by The City in 2011 but the new and current City Government refuses to grandfather it despite advice from The Alamosa Fire Marshall, Don Chapman, to do just that.
We immediately began to pursue multiple remedies to create a secondary egress from the upstairs. We came up with a plan and our building inspector signed and approved our permit. The City Manager would not accept the signed and approved permit and the building inspector quit because of the politicking. This left Creede without a building inspector.
Over the next few months, a structural engineer designed 5 different options for a secondary egress. The new building inspector, Dan Naiman, would not accept any of these designs, nor would he say why. They shut down our upstairs in early September of 2019 and said it could reopen when the egress issue was fixed. But again, they wouldn’t approve any of our code compliant secondary egress designs. They refused to work with us on any level. About a month later we discovered we only needed one means of egress. The City and Building Inspector had been incorrect the entire time.
Going back to the one means of egress, the City again could have grandfathered our stairs as they had been previously approved or they could have allowed us to obtain a variance. Creede’s own Municipal Code has language regarding that the 2003 IBC code should not be taken as a hardline, or create a hardship for anyone trying to comply with it.
From Creede's Municipal Code regarding adherence to the 2003 International Building Code:
1. "(i) The strict, literal interpretation and enforcement of the specified regulation would result in practical difficulty or unnecessary physical hardship inconsistent with the objectives of the Development Code;"
Ultimately, in February of 2020, we entered into a stipulation with The City of Creede. They told us that we would absolutely lose our liquor license if we did not sign the stipulation. Having no other choice, we signed the stipulation in good faith that The City would hold up their end of the deal: If we completed all of the tasks by March 27th, our liquor license would be approved. We completed Every Single Item on the list by the due date. The City argues that we did not. Their reasoning for saying we did not is that they “thought” there were other things we would do that were not actually listed on the stipulation. Thus, they did not hold up their end of the agreement and denied our liquor license under false pretenses. They were never going to approve it, no matter what we did. It cost us tens of thousands of dollars and many hours to fix the building issues on their list that they “thought” might be code violations.
We appealed the denial and we were granted the right to serve alcohol during the appeal. The next week, the city red tagged our building. This was during the Covid-19 shutdown. We were already limited to take out and seriously struggling. This red tag shut us down completely. Our attorneys spent a week trying to figure out the basis of the red tag. No one from the City could give them a clear answer on why they had red tagged it or how it was justified. By the end of the week, a City employee told us the red tag had been removed. No City official ever contacted us to say it had been removed. We received no notice until we asked about it.
After the red tag was removed, the City hired a private law firm, not connected to their insurance company. They said they needed to hire an expert attorney specializing in building issues as part of their strategy to shut down Kip’s Grill. They hired a Denver firm, Kutak Rok and although their attorney was competent and good at his job, building issues were not one of his specialties. Insurance for the city did not cover this attorney’s expenses. It is estimated The CIty used The Citizens of Creede's taxpayer money to the tune of $100,000 or more to try and shut down Kip’s Grill. They sued us, trying to get an injunction to shut down our building. We went to court for 2 and a half days. There were no experts that would say that Kip’s Grill has any life safety issues in its building. The City asked the judge to reconsider and she said no. Then, The City fired the Denver law firm and hired new attorneys through their insurance company.
When the City’s appeal was denied, they took matters into their own hands and posted a notice on our building that our Certificate of Occupancy had been revoked. We immediately filed in court to get a restraining order against them so they could not keep trying to shut us down. The Judge granted our restraining order against the city and ordered that they could not legally revoke our certificate of occupancy and basically told The City to leave us alone.
But, they won’t leave us alone, not even for a day. The new attorneys amended their complaint against Kip’s Grill. We went back to court and The City lost again. They immediately appealed but were told they were not allowed to appeal something that is not a final verdict. They waited patiently and as of December 3rd, 2020, they are again appealing the Judge’s verdict.
Both sides have had their cases heard in court over multiple days. The City is trying to prove that Kip’s Grill has life safety issues in its building. Every time we go to court they change what these life safety issues "might" be. We have testimony from a structural engineer that there exists no signs of anything being a life safety issue.
The judge has narrowed it down to two issues that we should fix in our building and we are more than happy to fix them. In fact, we had a structural engineer and an IBC expert prepare our permits for what are fairly easy fixes. We submitted the permits to the city. They sat on them for 4 weeks. We finally got them back and they were denied. They were not denied based on how the fixes are going to happen, which is what a permit is for, but they were denied because The City wants us to include more in the permit. We were specifically told by The Judge to fix two issues and The City won’t approve our permits because they want the scope of what we fix to be way larger than what the judge requested.
It’s ironic. The City wants to shut us down because they think we have life safety issues at our building. No one else thinks that we do, not the engineers or the code experts or The Judge. However, we are willing to fix the two issues the Judge recommended and yet, The City is preventing us from doing so no matter how we try.
Creede's City Officials are acting arbitrarily and capriciously with regard to enforcing current building codes at Kip's Grill. They hold all the power. We have been trying to meet their demands for 17 months, and every time we do, they change directions and want us to do more. They have no accountability to this town or the taxpayers that live here. This is not just a fight for Kip’s Grill, we believe it is a fight for our town, to get our town back and prevent other businesses from having to go through what we have had to endure. We do not need a City Manager and City Attorney who won’t work with business owners on any level. The City Attorney lives in Salida. The City Manager calls Trinidad home. They do not seem to care about Creede. Louis Fineberg has been heard on several occasions referring to Creede as a “shit town”. He is rarely in the office and when pressed on any issue, he will not answer truthfully. He would not tell the public how much has been spent on legal fees for Kutak Rok or for our City Attorney in the fight to shut down Kip’s Grill. He will say, “I can’t recall” or “I don’t remember”. If I wrote an $85,000 check (all taxpayer money) to a Denver law firm, I would surely remember it. The City Council is misinformed and underinformed at best. I have reached out to them many times and no one will speak to me. They have been told they are not allowed to go to Kip’s Grill. They do not get paid and they do not seem to care about the truth. Louis Fineberg and Karen Lintott tell them what they want them to know and that is it. No one will stand up and do the right thing.
This fight has drained our savings and more. We have to keep fighting or we will have nothing to show for 25 years of extremely hard work. We have to keep fighting so no one will have to endure the economic hardship and emotional distress that we have had to deal with for the last 17 months. We have to keep fighting so we can get our town back into the hands of people who love our town! Kip has put his heart and soul into this business and this town. We are incredibly active and generous within this community, both with time and money. We hope you will support in this legal battle so that CREEDE WINS!
Final note: Anything you can donate will help and we can’t do this without each and everyone of you. That being said, when we win, we will return any money not needed for the legal battle. If we win and get our attorney fees paid for (that is the goal), we will return as much as we are able to all of you. We are not trying to make money off of this. We truly just want our lives and our business back. Thank you for your time.
Costs to date:
Stipulation Process: $35,000
Appeal of Liquor License Denial: $35,000
Removal of red tag on building $15,000
City sues us to get our building shut down and we go to trial for 3 days: $100,000
City appeals Judge’s decision: $20,000
City revokes our Certificate of Occupancy: $15,000
Kip’s Grill is granted a restraining order against The City so that they cannot shut us down again for any reason $15,000
City Amends Appeal and Sues us again: $50,000
City again appeals Judge’s decision: Could be $50,000 or more if we go back to court
Court date set for August, 2021
Preparation costs: 100,000 (this is approximate)
Costs if it goes to trial: upwards of $300,000 (approximate)
- Chris Brickey
- tonja korpi
- Jonathan Durst
- Thomas Keating
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