Posted by: Patricia Salkin | September 17, 2015

SC Appeals Court Upholds Decision of Zoning Board of Appeals to Prohibit Homeowner from Operating a Dog Grooming Business at Her Home

Appellant Scarlet Williams converted her single-car garage into an additional living space with a modified shower for her mother-in-law. When Williams’ mother-in-law moved into an assisted living facility, Williams left her job as a dog groomer at PetSmart and began grooming dogs for friends and neighbors in the converted garage. Walt McPherson, the Lexington County Zoning Administrator, subsequently found that the County Ordinance’s “home occupation” provision prohibited Williams from operating the dog grooming business at her residence. Williams appealed McPherson’s decision to the Lexington County Board of Zoning Appeals. The BZA unanimously denied the appeal, finding that dog grooming was a prohibited activity for Williams’ residence under the County Ordinance. The circuit court affirmed the decision and Williams followed.

Williams contended the home occupation exception under Section 21.22 permitted her to engage in dog grooming, despite section 21.10’s prohibition of permits for kennels, because the ordinary meaning of “kennel” does not include dog grooming. Because the County Ordinance, when read as a whole, plainly included dog grooming within the ambit of a kennel, the court did not need to reference dictionary definitions. Even though the home occupation exception did not specifically enumerate “grooming” as a prohibited activity, the court found that when Sections 21.10 and 21.22 were read in tandem, it was clear that domestic animal grooming is an activity included within the definition of “kennel” and that county council intended to prohibit any type of kennel activities from occurring in residences on an RL5 street. Accordingly, the court held the circuit court properly upheld the BZA’s decision to deny Williams’ request for a permit to operate a dog grooming service at her residence.

Williams v Lexington County Board of Zoning Appeals, 2015 WL 5132323 (SC App. 9/2/2015)

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