Rescue squad purchase questioned

Neighbors doubt need for station in subdivision
Mar. 15, 2013 @ 12:25 AM

The Sevier County Volunteer Rescue Squad’s decision to buy a house for use as a satellite location that would house a crash truck has led to resistance from some of the neighbors and from Commissioner Bill Oakes, who represents the area, as well as questions about whether it violates deed restrictions on the property.

The house, located at 312 Boyds Creek Highway, is just a short distance from Chapman Highway. Its driveway comes out onto Boyds Creek Highway.

But a woman who owns adjacent property says it’s also part of the Seymour Heights Subdivision, and she doesn’t believe it should have been allowed in the neighborhood. She and Oakes also questioned the decision to have a satellite facility in the area at all, saying that Seymour Volunteer Fire Department adequately covers the area.

They also questioned why the squad bought the property from a relative of Chief Jim Kyker.

Charlene Taylor said she is in charge of the property owners association for the subdivision; she said she doesn’t believe the rescue squad can use the house because the deed restricts it to being used for a single family dwelling.

“It doesn’t meet the subdivision restrictions,” she said. “If they put in a substation, that’s against all the regulations on the restrictions.”

An agent with County Commissioner Marty Loveday’s real estate business oversaw the transaction; Loveday confirmed the property is under a restriction but said it isn’t clear if that would prevent a nonprofit agency like the rescue squad from operating there.

Kyker and Assistant Chief Todd Spence, who acts as the squad’s public information officer, said they weren’t aware of any restrictions on the property when they purchased it.

The matter could be headed to chancery court; officials have indicated that is where the matter would ultimately be decided if the POA maintains the use would violate the restrictions.

The issue first surfaced at the meeting of the emergency services committee last week, when Taylor and Oakes spoke up about the matter.

Oakes said he doesn’t believe the squad needs a substation in Seymour because the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department can handle calls in the area.

“There is no need for the rescue squad to spend their money there,” he said.

He said he believes the property was purchased so Kyker could help out a relative.

“To me it looks like a very convenient sale,” he said.

Kyker acknowledges the property belonged to niece, but said it had been on the market for months and that he was not close to her. She has moved out of the area, he said.

Property records indicate the rescue squad bought the property from Larry and Jane Bowers for $115,000.

“It had no bearing on who owned the property,” he said. “We bought it through the real estate agent.”

He said they believe the property is in an ideal location because its driveway comes out on Boyds Creek Highway and is just a short distance from Chapman Highway.

The property was purchased using funds the rescue squad obtained through its fund-raising efforts, he said.

Kyker said he would be meeting with the squad’s board of directors Wednesday night to discuss the matter with them; he said he had talked to some of the board members but not all of them before making the purchase.

Chairman Todd Proffitt could not be reached for comment.

The squad was also set to meet with the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department this week to discuss any issues related to the new location.

Oakes made it clear he believes the volunteer fire department can better serve Seymour residents on any calls where the squad might be involved.

Seymour VFD officials have said that the crash truck the rescue squad hopes to move to the substation duplicates equipment that they already have.

However, Spence and Kyker noted they serve other areas in that section of Seymour in addition to Seymour.

“Anywhere from 70 to 80 percent of out calls are on Chapman Highway, whether it be in Sevier county’s area, Seymour or wherever,” Spence said. “We decided we looked into it for several years and we wanted to put a station there so if we have people living that area they can get there and have a faster response time to Chapman Highway.

“We all now the tragedies that have happened on Chapman Highway."

jfarrell@themountainpress.com