SULLIVAN COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Three months after county employees said his park was not up to code, a local dinosaur park owner is making changes to his property.
This time of year, Chris Kastner’s dinosaur park “Backyard Terrors” attracts thousands of visitors.
“We did the trick-or-treat with the dinosaurs for their years, and we’re not doing that again this year…we had 3,200 people show up for that event,” said Kastner.
After that event, Kastner said county zoning employees contacted him and said he needed to make some big changes to the park in order to remain open.
“We were given a year,” said Kastner.
It’s been three months since that decision and Kastner said he began working on two items that need to be fixed which include adding more parking and upgrading the park’s electrical system.
Kastner told News Channel 11, he is also working on replacing a portable toilet with a permanent restroom.
“One male one female, has to have a water heater in it, has to be ADA compliant so it’s turned into about a $8,000 structure,” said Kastner.
The dinosaur park does not have an entree fee. Kastner said he wants to keep it that way, but it does create a problem when trying to make necessary upgrades.
“Some weeks, I may not have $5 you know that’s given to us, and I have to pay electrical bills, water, our septic system,” said Kastner.
But still, Kastner said he has to come up with more money.
“It is zoned agricultural and it’s in a rural area of the county so it could not handle special events and parking specifically,” said Sullivan County Director of Planning and Codes Ambre Torbett.
Torbett said because the property is open to the public, certain codes must be enforced.
“When you open your property to the public then the county has to get involved because specifically we’re dealing with health and safety issues restrooms, parking, things like that,” said Torbett.
Torbett told News Channel 11, after appearing before the board of zoning appeals twice, she hopes Kastner can make the changes.
“Hopefully with enough community support and fundraising they can make that happen,” said Torbett.
Kastner said some days he feels like giving up his passion but then he remembers–
“Kids, seeing their faces going through here.”
Torbett said they are going to wait several months before checking on Kastner’s property again.
Kastner said he hopes donations pick up so that he can continue making changes to the park.
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