They are rich. They are organized. And they got what they wanted.
Several residents of the swanky Signature Estates neighborhood helped persuade the Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday to defeat plans to expand a dog kennel in Safety Harbor.
In a 6-1 vote, elected officials decided they would not permit Sheldegren Pet Resort's owners to build 30 additional enclosed dog runs because the racket would bother the neighbors.
"It was like a reverse O.J. Simpson trial,'' said Mary Ann Engelmann, who owns the kennel with her husband, Jes Engelmann. "The noise concerns they talked about were unfounded.''
She was disappointed in the commission's decision because there is a great need for facilities like hers in Pinellas County, she said.
Most of the people who spoke against the project live next door to the pet resort in the upscale Signature Estates community which comprises more than a dozen million-dollar-plus homes.
"The noise levels are insane,'' said Donna Carollo, a Signature Estates resident. "You can't open your windows, ... you can't enjoy your porch.''
Said her husband, Santo Carollo: "We have 5 feet between us and (the kennel). We want quality of life, ... we don't want (the kennel) intruding on our life.''
Opponents said the cacophony ruins neighborhood barbecues and parties, and that the yipping and yapping can be heard even through closed windows.
Engelmann said she plans to install soundproofing materials throughout the kennel.
Signature Estates homeowner William Schumacher called the Engelmanns' expansion plans "unneighborly.''
He added that weekends and holidays are the worst because the kennel is full.
The pet resort was built in the 1960s; Signature Estates was built about a decade ago.
The Engelmanns bought the 1.7-acre property at 3440 Enterprise Road in 2003.
The kennel averages about 35 guests a day; capacity is about 70 dogs. If the Engelmanns had been allowed to expand, that number would have increased to 120 animals.
Gary Borland, who boards his pet at the resort, is one of their supporters.
He said people shouldn't "move next to an airport and then complain about the planes flying overhead.''
Likewise, he said, they "shouldn't move next to a kennel and complain about'' barking dogs.
Eileen Schulte can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or email@example.com.