News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, Oct. 1, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Popular haunted house Plantation Blood has been drawing crowds since it started three years ago, but it is also drawing criticism from angry neighbors.
The haunted house owners wanted more room for parking and the planning commission approved rezoning the area to commercial status on Monday.
Owners say more parking spots would only help alleviate traffic.
"We have made a lot of improvements, you know, we have done everything that the county and state officials have asked us to do," said
Plantation Blood Co-owner Mark Jackson.
Jackson said, "We want extra parking for 26 days a year. We do not want to construct anything, we need additional parking."
Plantation Blood's response to noise complaints last year has also been an issue.
News 12's Sheli Muniz asked, "Mark, they [neighbors during meeting] mentioned the comment that you said last year about sleep medicines and ear plugs for those who were disturbed by the noise. Do you regret saying that?"
Jackson replied, "That probably wasn't the right thing to say. We are here 26 days a year, we have reached out to Pamela Williams [concerned neighbor] numerous times to accommodate her."
But, it seems like neighbors thought right after the meeting was the perfect time to reach out to the owners.
News 12 was there as neighbors voice their concerns in the hallway.
Jackson told them, "I would love to sit down and meet with you guys off the record and talk and see what we can do to work together but getting in front of the camera and arguing is not the way to do it."
Soon after, owners did make plans with some of those neighbors to sit down together and talk.
The owners of Plantation Blood say there has been a lot of misinformation going around regarding anything from the hours of operation to accountability.
"We are not planning on opening anymore than the haunt for Halloween. No 365 days a year ... no 24 hours a day. We are business owners in the community, we have full-time businesses, we have families ... one month a year we want to operate our haunted house," Jackson said.
Commissioners had to mention to neighbors several times that Monday's meeting wasn't a debate on the business itself, but that it was about parking. A parking plan that owners say would only benefit those living in the area, helping alleviate traffic.
Meanwhile, this year, Plantation Blood has added sound barriers and midway fencing.
The plan will now go to the full Augusta Commission on Oct. 16 at 5 p.m. Only one planning commissioner voted against the change.