GEORGETOWN — An emergency medical services substation in Floyd County has 30 days to relocate after losing a zoning appeal last week.
In 2017, the Utica Fire Department purchased a residence with a two-car garage at 1436 W. Knable Road in Georgetown with the intent to operate a New Chapel EMS substation there. However, the property is zoned residential and the appeals denial document states the department didn't seek a conditional use variance from the plan commission before starting operations.
Court records show that soon after the purchase, a complaint was filed with the Floyd County Plan Commission asserting that the station was in violation of zoning code. The department then filed a conditional use variance, which was denied by the Floyd County Board of Zoning Appeals for not meeting the following criteria:
"Strict application of the Floyd County Zoning Ordinance will not result in unnecessary hardship in the use of the property because: it is a home and can be occupied and utilized as one in the future."
In July 2018, the department filed a petition for judicial review of the board's findings, stating that it had only cited state statute and therefore the conditional use application had not been thoroughly reviewed.
The Floyd County trial court sided with the Board of Zoning Appeals, stating that the department's request for judicial review had not addressed the board's actual findings, and therefore was insufficient. The appellate court agreed and passed down its opinion June 7.
Justin Tackett, director of Floyd County Building & Development Services, said in an email Thursday the department is pleased with the courts' decisions.
“We are grateful both the trial and appellate courts affirmed the propriety of the BZA’s decision making process in this case," he said.
Jamey Noel, Clark County sheriff, is overseeing the Utica Fire Department on an interim basis until a replacement can be found for his brother, former Chief Leon Noel, who died in December.
Noel said it had been an oversight that his brother didn't seek the conditional use variance before starting operations at the emergency medical services substation, adding that "If you don't handle it properly the first time, sometimes you can't recover from it," he said.
He said the department had expected that the appeals case may be lost, and said the department doesn't yet know if it will seek a new location in the area or operate with 12-hour shifts, and have emergency personnel operate out of an ambulance rather than a stationary location.
Noel said the court's decision will not affect response or service times.