Kenmore scored another victory in its fight against gambling establishments when a panel of three U.S. Ninth Circuit Court judges affirmed the city’s ban on card rooms May 28.
The decision marks a second legal setback for the only gaming operation in town, Kenmore Lanes-based 11th Frame.
Owner Frank Evans still has options, and he’s shown a willingness to go all in with making his case for doing business as usual.
“To date, he’s taken every procedural opportunity he has, and that’s his legal right,” said Dan Lossing, an attorney for the city.
Evans will have until June 11 to request a hearing by the entire panel of Ninth Circuit judges.
He could also take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lawyers representing 11th Frame say it’s too soon to determine whether that option is viable. They’ll ask the Ninth Circuit Court to re-examine parts of the ruling before making that decision.
“We plan further proceedings in the Court of Appeals to address this issue,” said Kenmore Lanes attorney Paul Dayton. “We’re disappointed with the court’s decision and think it’s incorrect.”
Kenmore Lanes has been arguing that the city’s 2005 ban on card rooms is illegal, and that 11th Frame has a right to continue operating as a non-conforming use.
A federal judge denied that claim, prompting the unsuccessful appeal in Circuit Court.
Kenmore Lanes did score one victory when the judges reversed a U.S. District Court decision that awarded the city of Kenmore $180,000 in attorneys’ fees.
The city could still pay a price for taking away 11th Frame’s gambling-operation privileges. A lawsuit is still pending in King County Superior Court over a takings claim related to the gambling-tax increase.
That case is set to go to trial on Sept. 29.
The city has been budgeting with the assumption that it will no longer receive gambling-tax revenues from Kenmore Lanes.
Evans can continue operating 11th Frame as a card room until all aspects of his legal dispute are resolved, according to Kenmore City Manager Anderson.
City Councilmember Laurie Sperry released information last week that suggested the card-room issue might fade away.
She wrote in her blog (www.kenmoreblog.net) that Evans and neighboring property owner Len Griesel had signed an agreement with the Trammel Crow Residential group to create a new mixed-use development on their land.
Evans denies that this happened.
“Trammell Crowe approached us at one point, but we have no agreement with them,” he said. “Having someone contact you and making an agreement are light years away.”
Sperry corrected her blog statement on June 3, and told The Reporter that she might have mistook information from Anderson, who told City Council during a recent study session about discussions between Griesel and Trammell Crowe.
Anderson claims he met as late as the week of May 25 with Griesel, Trammell Crowe, and a design firm to discuss potential developments for Kenmore Square, which includes all of the properties in question.
“I’ve seen the plans to develop everything,” Anderson said. “I haven’t seen the development agreement, but assumed they had it.”
The designs included residential housing on the west end of Kenmore Square and two retail buildings behind Starbucks, Anderson recalled.
The city had not received a permit application for the project at The Reporter deadline.