Backyard Terrors lawsuit headed to court

Local

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — There are now new developments in the lawsuit against the popular dinosaur park, Backyard Terrors.

In late September, News Channel 11 told you about the inspection, which was done by the Sullivan County Planning and Codes Department.

Now, the owner says he has been served court papers after failing to comply with the county.

“We started on this property back in 2015. This has been going on for four years,” Sullivan County Attorney Daniel P. Street said. “He’s not in compliance. He’s in violation of the Sullivan County planning ordinance. We’ve written him, and worked with him and told him what he needs to do.”

The county has been bending over backwards for Backyard Terrors for far too long, according to the Sullivan County attorney.

Street said, “Originally, he responded to us by saying he was operating like a park. Something like that. Which was okay, but you had to reach to meet certain conditions.”

“Well, since that time, he has expanded what he’s doing and now he, it appears anyway, that he’s actually a commercial business. He is taking in money, charging an admissions fee, charging the public to come into his facility, his property and providing a service, which he is not zoned to do. He is not properly zoned to have a commercial business on this property,” Street said.

New features to the park have required the county to add on more requirements.

“He wasn’t charged and it was just for people to come out and walk. So, we set forth certain conditions for him to meet. However, he failed to meet those conditions,” Street said. “The county ran out of options which lead them with no choice but to file suit,” Street said.

The county is still waiting on more paperwork.

SEE ALSO: Owner: Popular backyard dinosaur park in danger of closing; at odds with county code officials

“Since the inspection, we received one letter to accumulate the paperwork that they wanted done and we’re working on that,” Backyard Terrors owner Chris Kastner said. “It’s just taking time. I don’t drive, I don’t have a car. It just takes time for me to get anywhere or get anything done.”

Kastner said the inspections shows his park failed the conditions but claims that is not entirely the case.

“I’m just not legal minded at all,” Kastner said. “Documents in here showing what we violated. Not having parking, which we’re standing in the parking lot. Sign is not removed, which we did remove the sign that they were complaining about. It’s got a lot of things from a month ago, and there’s new things added to this.

He said if all else fails, he may move his park to a different location.

“It’s going to require a monumental effort to move what we have over six acres, but that would be the last-ditch attempt,” Kastner said.

“We’re not after the money,” Street said. “We just need to enforce our zoning ordinance against him like we do everybody else, and he needs to comply.”

If the judge rules in the county’s favor in this trial, Kastner could face up to $50 a day in fines until he becomes in compliance.

Kastner’s court date is set for December 2.

Street says this will be an informal trial.

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