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Churches, individuals, and agencies asked to provide information about possible housing
Last Wednesday (February 8, 2023), Sr. Deputy Fire Marshall for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, C.W. Cornett (Morehead), Fire Marshall Ed Lumley, Whitley City Fire Chief Tony Miller, and Emergency Management Director Stephen McKinney conducted a follow up inspection of Tuscany Pines Apartments on Hwy 1651, just north of Stearns. Magistrate Bobby Strunk and other county officials were also present.
After completing Wednesday’s inspection, the fire marshalls and Fire Chief Miller met with County Attorney Austin Price to discuss initiation of the legal process to close the apartment complex. According to one unnamed official, the complex can be closed through a procedure outlined in KRS 227.380. The section reads as follows:
Section 227.380 – Fire chief may order fire hazard removed – Appeal
(1) Whenever the chief of the fire department or any officer or member of his department designated by him for that purpose finds any property which, for want of repairs, lack of sufficient fire escapes, age, dilapidated condition, or any other cause, is especially liable to fire loss, or whenever an officer finds in any property, combustible or explosive matter or inflammable materials likely to result in fire loss, he shall order it to be remedied. The order shall forthwith be conformed to by the owner of the property.
(2) The owner may appeal to the state fire marshal within ten (10) days following receipt of the order. The state fire marshal shall, upon appeal, conduct a hearing in accordance with KRS Chapter 13B.
Whitley City Fire Chief Tony Miller has jurisdiction over the complex and is working through KRS 227.380 to close the building.
“I am issuing a complaint for County Attorney Austin Price to review and revise if needed,” Fire Chief Miller explained. “After that, it will be sent on to a Circuit Court Judge for signature. Once that signature is received and the building is closed, the owner will be served and will have ten days to appeal. The appeal will be in Frankfort in front of a judge who will issue the final decision.”
Miller explained Tuscany Pines has already basically been condemned due to numerous failed inspections and failure of the owner to correct deficiencies. Miller noted buildings can be condemned but still remain open until they reach a point of deterioration when safety to life becomes an issue.
“I am ordering Tuscany Pine’s closure due to life safety hazards,” Miller said.
When questioned, McCreary County Attorney Austin Price responded he is currently researching the legal implications and background of KRS 227.380 to ensure the County moves forward properly.
“I want to make sure everything we do is done in a proper way so our County and fire chief are protected,” Price noted.
Currently, county officials are attempting to locate safe, affordable housing so the tenants at Tuscany Pines have options for relocating. Approximately nine individuals reside at Tuscany Pines and are impacted by conditions at the apartment complex. Churches, community members, and government agencies with information to help the residents of Tuscany Pines relocate to safer housing are asked to call Judge Greene (606-376-2413) at his office.
In last week’s edition, The Voice reported on the deplorable living conditions at Tuscany Pines and about the results of an Open Records Request which revealed several failed life safety inspections of the apartment complex over the last several years. The Voice will continue to follow this story as developments occur.