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Haunted House neighbors ask commission for relief

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 7:49 PM
Last updated 11:19 PM
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Neighbors of a popular south Augusta haunted house appealed to Augusta commissioners Tuesday for relief from the screams, extra traffic and grind of chainsaws that plagues their neighborhood 24 days each year.

“We are guaranteed the basic human rights of having a home that is tranquil and peaceful,” said Pamela Williams, alleging fire code violations at Plantation Blood and increased traffic around Halloween. “We need for our leaders to help us.”

Owners of the haunted house, which moved from Columbia County to Wallie Drive in 2010, countered that they, unlike Williams, were property owners, who for safety kept three to five deputies on duty during the 24 days the facility is open each year. The house opened Sept. 23 last year, according to the house’s Web site.

The deputies “let us know when it’s time to put the chainsaws down,” owner Brian Carter said.

“Richmond County has too many caretakers and not enough property owners,” he added.

Commissioner Alvin Mason told Carter and co-owner Mark Jackson that Williams’ status as a renter was not relevant.

“A lot of the caretakers are the participants that take your money,” Mason said.

The city’s public services committee heard both sides of the Plantation Blood argument at a Tuesday meeting despite lacking a quorum of members. Public Services Chairman Corey Johnson asked city administrative, traffic and codes enforcement personnel to meet with parties and return with more information about the haunted house at its next meeting.

Nine-year-old Donovan Lee Brown Jr. was killed by an unknown hit-and-run driver a few blocks away while walking home from the haunted house in 2010. His killer, reported to have been driving a red SUV or minivan, has not been found.

At another meeting Tuesday, the city’s Finance committee heard details of a plan to identify and collect undiscovered license revenue from Augusta businesses.

George Patty, director of Augusta’s planning and development department, said a private firm that bid for the work would pursue the uncollected revenue from small businesses that often operate under the umbrella of area hospitals, education institutions and churches.

The firm, made up of former county administrators and Internal Revenue Service investigators, estimated it needs to find $300,000 to “break even” on a finder’s fee-basis, but that pursuing the revenue might create “some heartburn” as area institutions are checked for unpaid fees, Patty said.

“What I’m hearing is we’re going to play bandit,” said Commissioner J.R. Hatney, who opposed the measure.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who supported it, said the city of Atlanta located millions in revenue through a similar process.

“We have an obligation to the taxpayers to go find those people that are not paying,” Brigham said.

Commission committees approved numerous agenda items by consent Tuesday, but Finance took no action on the plan. Brigham said he hoped the full commission would approve it at next week’s meeting.

Comments (8) Add comment
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HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 05/29/12 - 09:11 pm
1
1
You can't blame the accident

You can't blame the accident on the haunted house. Wonder why they get more business in that area over the location in Columbia County.

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 05/30/12 - 07:40 am
0
1
Selfishness

From the story:

“We are guaranteed the basic human rights of having a home that is tranquil and peaceful,” said Pamela Williams.

Sorry, Pamela, but you are guaranteed no such thing. This entitlement mentality has gone too far.

boodroe
1901
Points
boodroe 05/30/12 - 07:59 am
0
1
Haunted House

The House is in a neighborhood zoned for business and residency right. If so the neighbors should know they are not breaking any laws Plus 24 days a year the House is open be glad they aren't open 364 days a year

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 05/30/12 - 08:17 am
1
0
Finder’s Fees

Okay, so there are some small, mom-&-pop businesses providing services to hospitals, schools, and churches that are not volunteering to pay the myriad of fees the city of Augusta imposes. So an out-of-town firm comes to George Patty and offers to sniff them out and expose them to Patty's department so that Patty can tell these small Augusta businesses to pony up the fees. Only the kicker is that Patty's department will have to collect at least $300,000 from these small businesses to make enough money to pay the out-of-town firm.

That's a big if. Do you remember the recent story about another department that fell for a pitch from an out-of-town firm offering eye-in-the-sky software to find extra property tax money from lakes and swimming pools? The department head that got the money from taxpayers to buy the software promised millions of dollars in new taxes. Later, after all was said and done, the money received was way less than promised, and even less than the software cost.

Jerry Brigham said a similar sting operation netted the city of Atlanta "millions." Well, Atlanta has a lot more businesses operating under the radar than does Augusta. Augusta is to Atlanta as a horsefly is to a horse.

On last night's TV news on this story, I heard George Patty say the city would have to pay some up-front costs to this out-of-town firm to allow the firm to tap into the city government’s computer databases to sniff out these mom-&-pop businesses. I predict a net loss to the city if they go forward with this silliness.

raul
4591
Points
raul 05/30/12 - 08:16 am
0
1
@boodroe. Well, you answered

@boodroe. Well, you answered the question I had. Is the haunted house zoned for business?

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 05/30/12 - 08:21 am
1
0
Eye-in-the-sky

Here's the link to the software story:

Less Benefit Than Promised

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 05/30/12 - 08:34 am
1
0
Plantation Blood

The location is just south of Tobacco Rd. and just east of Windsor Springs Rd. Obviously, since the business is called a haunted house, the property was once someone's house. The aerial photo appears to be residential, with businesses encroaching.

Hey, here's a hoot. When I found the map on Mapquest.com, the display came up with a list called “Popular Restaurants Nearby.” Here is the list:

1. Sconyers
2. Olive Garden
3. Malibu Jacks

Okay, I'll give you Sconyers. But Olive Garden nearby to Tobacco & Windsor Springs? Come on.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 05/30/12 - 07:24 pm
1
0
Not entitlement

I wonder what the hours of operation is for those 24 days? I mean honestly if it stays open late on week nights and like myself, I get up at 4:45 am, heck I may be upset by the noise also. I don't think that wanting to live in a quiet neighborhood should be considered as an entitlement mentality. Most people I know work and they all appreciate living in a quiet area and the few I know who don't aren't very happy. There is a woman who lives behind the WalMart in Evans that called the police on a nightly basis complaining about the noise from the street sweeper that cleaned the parking lots at night. I say that to say that some people are just complainers and will complain about anything. Maybe this noise is pretty bad and 24 nights in a row could probably get pretty annoying, unless we have to dael with it we really can't judge the ones who are dealing with it. But the city has to figure it out and come to a comclusion that hopefully will make everyone happy.

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