Wexford homeowners worried neighborhood will go to the dogs

tbarton@islandpacket.comNovember 9, 2013 

Paige Grisette, owner of Red Rover dog groomers talks about her goal to expand her business by opening a dog kennel and boarding facility. The plan is facing opposition from the Wexford Plantation Homeowners Association.

SARAHWELLIVER

Business has been good the past four years for Paige Grisette and her New Orleans Road dog-grooming business, Red Rover.

So good, in fact, that she hopes to open another Hilton Head Island location, a dog kennel and boarding facility at 77 Arrow Road in a vacant building previously used by a children's day care center.

The town's Board of Zoning Appeals granted her request Sept. 23, but her efforts have been stymied by the Wexford Plantation Homeowners Association.

The association filed an appeal Oct. 15 in the Beaufort County Court of Common Pleas, asking a judge to reverse the board's decision and rule the special exception invalid.

The gated community's golf course backs up to the wooded property. The nearest home is more than 300 feet away, separated by the course, a creek, line of trees and a bike and running path.

Homeowners worry about noise from barking dogs, despite Grisette's insistence that dogs would be kept indoors most of the time. Occasionally, small groups of dogs would be in a fenced area behind the building for fresh air and to relieve themselves.

Dogs would not be let out at night, Grisette said, adding that the 7,668-square-foot building has plenty of room for indoor play.

That satisfied town staff and the Board of Zoning Appeals.

"The proposed uses will not be a nuisance to neighboring properties because the negative effects of the uses will be minimized by keeping the dogs indoors at most times and by bagging and disposing of all waste," senior town planner Anne Cyran wrote to the board, recommending the kennel be approved.

A pet grooming and boarding facility is already down the road at Arrow Center. All About Pets Hilton Head Island has operated since 2006 without any noise complaints, according to town staff.

Town Council allows kennels and boarding in commercial centers under special exception.

"There is large population of full- and part-time dog owners, as well as hundreds of tourists who bring their dogs and are in need of day care and/or boarding," Grisette said. "There's more demand at this point than supply."

Town staff and the Board of Zoning Appeals also said the boarding and grooming facility is compatible with surrounding businesses, which include an auto repair shop, offices, florist and laundry service.

Nevertheless, the homeowners association argues that the town failed to demonstrate the kennel is compatible with nearby homes in Wexford. It also says town ordinance prohibits kennels from letting dogs outside.

Wexford's attorney, S.C. state Rep. Weston Newton, declined to comment for this story, saying he does not discuss pending litigation.

A hearing on the appeal has not yet been set.

"I am sympathetic to their concerns, but I think they're misguided," Grisette said. "I've been an islander since 1979, and the last thing I want to do is make anyone miserable. ... It hurts my heart that this is a contentious situation. If I thought it would be disruptive, I wouldn't do it."

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.

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