A businesswoman's plans to construct a dog kennel on Hilton Head Island have been approved by the town.
Now the courts must decide whether the Red Rover Inn can open next to the Church of Christ on Hilton Head Island.
The proposed business has drawn fire from congregation members who say dogs will be heard -- and smelled -- on church grounds.
A town panel Tuesday approved design plans for the 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. The Red Rover Inn will provide grooming and boarding services for as many as 32 dogs, according to owner Paige Grisette. She also owns Red Rover dog-grooming on New Orleans Road.
Grisette has said the sounds and smells of the dogs will be 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 passersby. A wall that resembles the building would block part of the fence that faces the church and conceal dog runs, according to her plans.
Only a few dogs would go outside at a time, and no dogs would be let out during Sunday service, Grisette said. She also said the inside of the building would be renovated to absorb noise.
But church members think the stench of dog waste will waft onto their property. They're also worried barking will disrupt their services, especially on Sundays and Wednesdays, when by law they have the right to every space in the shared parking lot.
"Put yourself in our position ... hearing dogs barking inside when we want to listen to our minister," said church elder Joe Hendrix.
Thomas C. Taylor, an attorney for the church, said he will appeal the town's decision in circuit court.
The church argues that the kennel needed review from a private architectural board before gaining town approval.
Property owners' boards, such as those at Sea Pines or Shelter Cove, often review projects before the town, according to town land-management ordinance official Teri Lewis. However, the board that would review the kennel has not operated for many years, according to town attorneys.
Taylor said the church plans to contact nearby property owners and restore that board to review the kennel's design plans.
"The town must have authority (from the private board) beforehand, and they have failed to ask for it," Taylor said. "It is their legal obligation."
The dispute started this year after the town Board of Zoning Appeals granted Grisette an exemption to open the kennel. Attorneys for the church appealed, arguing that the vacant building is too large for its lot to house a dog kennel. Construction can't start until a decision on that appeal is made by Beaufort County Master-In-Equity Marvin Dukes. No date for a decision has been scheduled, Taylor said.
The appeal of Tuesday's decision will be filed in circuit court within 30 days, he said.
Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.