45-year-old business in Augusta facing zoning problems after relocating

News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, March 5, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A business with a long history in Augusta has made a move to a new location, but not everyone is pleased with it.

The Forest Hills Barber Shop moved into a residential zoned neighborhood, and some neighbors are saying there's too much traffic and a giant barber pole out front.

Perry Smith, one of the owners of the shop,says,"My dad opened up in October of 1968, and I came on board in 1970."

Their family-owned barber shop has a lot of history on Wrightsboro Road.

"We just wanted to stay in the area. We've been here 43 years," he said.

Their old place was on the other side of Wrightsboro Road, near the New Life church, until Walmart announced plans to build there.

Owner Herb Smith says, "It was kind of hard to take really."

So, they bought a house on the corner lot of Springview Drive.

"We have done everything we can do to comply with the neighborhood. We've walked the streets, and people have welcomed us here," Perry said.

But some people in the neighborhood aren't so happy with the bustling business on their street. Neighbors called to tip News 12 off to some zoning problems.

"We have complied with everything that zoning has asked us to do," Perry said.

But officials over at planning and zoning tell us that isn't the case. The barber shop is in a residential zone, and owners have been given a seven-day cease and desist notice to get rid of three of the barber chairs. They are only allowed to operate one.

"We're in compliance; we only operate one barber at a time," Perry said.

The city also says they are not allowed to have a parking lot, but the owners say they sent a sketch of the parking plans to the building inspector.

"We drew a drawing of how we was going to do it, with a circular drive with just a pad in the front. And we've been approved," Perry said.

The city says the barber pole out front is another problem. It's considered a sign, which isn't allowed for their zoning.

But, despite the setbacks, the barbers plan to keep doing what they do best.

"Just going by faith, you know, that everything's going to keep working," Herb said.

Planning and zoning officials say they will be sending a soil erosion specialist out there to take a look at what has already been done with the pavement, but barber shop owners say they have gotten good feedback so far from the community, and they're pretty confused by the complaints.

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