A Hilton Head Island businesswoman is moving ahead with plans to open a dog kennel next to a church, despite objections from congregation members worried that dog noise and odor will ruin their sanctuary's tranquility.
Paige Grisette, owner of Red Rover dog-grooming service on New Orleans Road, will go before a town panel Tuesday to finalize plans for the proposed kennel on Bow Circle, a dead-end street between Palmetto Bay and Arrow roads.
The kennel would open in a vacant building that shares a driveway and parking lot with the Church of Christ on Hilton Head Island. The business, Red Rover Inn, will provide grooming and boarding services for 32 dogs, according to town documents.
Grisette said Monday she will keep the sound and smell of the dogs contained to the site. She plans a 6-foot-tall privacy fence to cordon an area for dogs to relieve themselves, and to stop them from seeing and barking at passers-by. A wall that resembles the existing building would block off the part of the fence that faces the church and conceal dog runs, according to plans.
Only a handful of dogs would go outside at a time, and no dogs would be let out during Sunday service, Grisette said.
"They'll always be supervised, and so will whatever they leave behind."
But church members 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.
The church will challenge Grisette's plans before the Design Review Board, which meets at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall, 1 Town Centre Court.
Attorneys for the church claim the panel can't rule on Red Rover Inn's design plans, which include the fence and renovations inside the building to limit noise.
The attorneys say the plans need to first be approved by a private architectural review board, according to a letter to the town from Chester Williams, an attorney for the church.
"It's clear to us (the kennel) is moving forward as if they don't have to comply with the rules," said Thomas C. Taylor, another attorney for the church.
If the board approves the plans, the church would appeal to circuit court, Taylor said.
The church has already appealed a town Board of Zoning Appeals' decision to allow Grisette an exemption to open the kennel. Attorneys for the church say the board's decision doesn't comply with code. They argue, for instance, that the vacant building is too large in relation to the property on which it sits to house a dog kennel.
Construction can't start until a decision on that appeal is made Sept. 15 by Beaufort County Master-In-Equity Marvin Dukes, according to town land-management ordinance official Teri Lewis.
Grisette, who hasn't closed on the vacant building, said she's moving forward with the design plans so "we can hit the ground running when the appeal is heard."
She said the minor changes to the building are emblematic of the quiet presence the kennel will maintain.
"This won't be an in-your-face thing. It's aesthetically compatible with what is there," she said. "I hope the church sees what we aren't planning on doing as much as what we are."
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