WJBF Investigates: National Hills Hospitality Businesses

AUGUSTA — During Masters Week, Washington Road is busy, but National Hills is too.

The neighborhood is full of hospitality businesses that give patrons a taste of the town.

“Great people, great food, open bar, everything you want,” one patron said.

Hospitality packages can run anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand.

There are the larger ones close to Washington Road and then there are the ones on Azalea and Magnolia Drives that used to be single family homes, but were converted into businesses.

“It can be kind of a hassle when I can’t drive through my own neighborhood myself without being blocked by various vehicles especially some of the large SUVs, the large vans pulling in and out of driveways and things like that,” homeowner Jim Goolsby said.

Some homeowners don’t like the dozens of transport vans in the neighborhood.

They take patrons to and from the Masters tournament.

Those homeowners say the vans drive way over the speed limit.

“People that are not familiar with these streets are not aware that there’s children here too, you know, year round, and so I wish they’d be a little bit more careful,” Goolsby said.

Another concern is why these businesses are even in a neighborhood.

We took a look at the city’s zoning map and found that most of the hospitality businesses are not zoned for commercial use.

51 weeks out of the year, the businesses have no patrons, no vans, they’re just empty houses.

City officials say the smaller businesses don’t need to be rezoned because they’re only operating one week a year.

But with more of these businesses popping up, how far into a neighborhood is too far?

“It can be an annoyance, but I appreciate The Masters and I appreciate what they do for the city, so one week out of the year we sort of put up with it,” Goolsby said.

Not all the homeowners in National Hills have an issue with the hospitality businesses.

In fact, we talked to one off-camera who said the businesses make the neighborhood look better, even if it’s only for one week out of the year.

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