May 24, 2014

Hilton Head church plans appeal over dog hotel proposal

A Hilton Head Island church congregation isn't happy that a dog kennel might open next door and will appeal a decision to allow it, an attorney for the church says.

A Hilton Head Island church congregation isn't happy that a dog kennel might open next door and will appeal a decision to allow it, an attorney for the church says.

The Church of Christ on Hilton Head Island will file an appeal this week in the Beaufort County Court of Commons Pleas that challenges a Board of Zoning Appeals decision to approve the dog hotel on Bow Circle, a dead-end street between Palmetto Bay and Arrow roads, according to attorney Thomas C. Taylor.

The board granted Paige Grisette, who owns Red Rover dog-grooming service on New Orleans Road, an exception to open the kennel in a vacant building that shares a driveway and parking lot with the sanctuary.

Town code allows kennels in commercial centers under such an exception.

But the church's attorneys say the board's decision doesn't comply with code. They argue, for instance, that the vacant building is too large compared to the property on which it sits to house a dog kennel.

The church wanted the board to reconsider the exception, but at a hearing Monday the board did not respond to the request.

"The board made the decision that there wasn't enough material to reopen the case," town staff attorney Brian Hulbert said Thursday.

Church members have other concerns.

They think the stench of dog waste will waft onto their property. They're also worried noise from barking dogs will disrupt their services, especially on Sundays and Wednesdays, when by law they have the right to every space in the shared parking lot, according to town documents.

Allowing a kennel so close to the church would be "inappropriate," Taylor, the church's lawyer, said.

Grisette has said she will take the necessary steps to keep the noise and odor on site.

She plans to construct a 6-foot-tall privacy fence that would cordon off an area for dogs to relieve themselves and stop them from seeing and barking at those passing by.

She also wouldn't let dogs outside during church services on Sunday, according to town documents.

"I'm very confident there will be a controlled environment for the dogs to enjoy while keeping the noise to a minimum," she said Monday.

Grisette pointed to her dog-grooming service on New Orleans Road as evidence her next business venture would not be a nuisance.

Companies that share a building with her, including Dough Boys, Pomodori and Mattress Firm, signed a statement that said there has never been "cause for concern" about noise or odor, according to town documents.

Town staff agreed.

"There is no evidence to indicate that the kennel will be obnoxious," senior town planner Anne Cyran said at the hearing.

Grisette's plans for a dog hotel have been challenged before.

In November, some Wexford Plantation residents appealed the town's decision to allow the kennel to open in a building on Arrow Road.

The case went to the Court of Common Pleas but was never decided because Grisette chose not to buy the property.

She said Thursday she plans to move forward with the location next to the church.

"I look forward to being a great neighbor, which is what we're going to be; they just don't know it."

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