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


BLUFF CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- The owner of Backyard Terrors in Bluff City told News Channel 11 he is in trouble with county code officials and is fighting to stay in business.

Chris Kastner told News Channel 11’s Pheben Kassahun he was told by the Sullivan County Planning Director that he’s in violation of failing to prove he has complied with the following 10 things:

  • Failure to meet sign guidelines
  • Off-street parking
  • Failure to get consent from all adjacent neighbors
  • Charging a fee for property use
  • Failure to meet safety guidelines on playgrounds
  • Failure to establish non-profit status
  • Failure to install bathroom facility
  • Failure to obtain a required fence around the perimeter of the property
  • Failure to follow standard hours of operation (8 am to 10 pm)
  • Failure to retain natural buffering

According to the letter sent by the Sullivan County Attorney, at the request of the Sullivan County Planning Director, the owner, Chris Kastner needs to meet these 10 requirements soon, before he faces a fine or even jail time.

Kastner is now on the hunt for a lawyer to keep “Backyard Terrors” open. He said he has been working to meet the requirements from the county each time they make a request but cannot keep up.

“It’s just a lot to handle, trying to manage. Money’s going out four different ways and coming in one,” Kastner said.

He said he has met some of the requirements on this list.

“Ten things we were supposed to have done already, that we have got most of done, like eight out of the ten. The other things, we’ve accomplished in some form or part, he said.

He added that trying to meeting the standards has been so costly and has set him back by thousands of dollars.

Kastner said, “We’re still paying off our electrical from last year. We went up around $20,000 worth of work that needed to be done.”

He recently had to tear down the wooden playground area in the park due to being told it had to be made of plastic.

“We didn’t have money for a restroom because of having to pay off the electrical, and this is going to be more money that we’re going to have to find and put towards something else that won’t go towards park improvements, he said.

SEE ALSO: Backyard Terrors: The Tri-Cities’ own Jurassic Park

This comes at a worst time of the year because Kastner sees the most business in the fall.

“This one in fall. The fun house haunted attraction actually allows us to get through January, February, March, until we get back to spring again,” he said. “It helps us pay electric bills, trash services and stuff like that, and stay open.”

Kastner explained that the haunted house is basically what built the dinosaur park.

“It was around before the park actually was,” he said.

When it is all said and done, Kastner said he is worried there will not be a park at all.

“We were never about money. That wasn’t the thing here. I just want to keep doing what I’m doing and keep providing it. I don’t really worry about the money I expect.”

Kastner has set up an online fundraiser to raise funds for a lawyer.

On Monday, September 30, Sullivan County officials will send an inspector to check if his park is up to code. In the event he has failed it, he could face 30 days in jail and a fine.

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