Chelmsford Wildlife Sanctuary facing uncertain future due to zoning issue

CHELMSFORD, Mass. — A wildlife sanctuary in Chelmsford suddenly needs a little saving itself. A zoning law issue was discovered after a complaint was filed.

Jane Newhouse’s passion for animals runs deep. So deep she’s invested thousands of dollars into her wildlife rescue business that she runs out of her home and backyard.

“I was a veterinarian technician for years and I loved working with animals, but I noticed anytime we received wildlife they didn’t have an owner or anybody to really help them so I really got into helping those animals that don’t have owners,” says Jane Newhouse, owner of Newhouse Wildlife Rescue.

For the past five years, she’s run her business without any issues. That is until a neighbor found a raccoon in their yard and blamed Newhouse for it.

“We don’t tag any of our raccoons there are no collars on them so there is no way to know what raccoon came from where and we don’t release our raccoons here in the neighborhood,” says Newhouse.

The neighbor’s complaint sent town inspectors to her home where a potential costly discovery was made.

The animal cages are close to the home next door. Newhouse says the town told her there needs to be at least 10 feet between properties.

“These obviously as you can see from this it won’t slide over 10 feet. It would be heartbreaking to demolish an enclosure that is perfectly usable that is gorgeous,” says Newhouse.

Newhouse plans to appeal the town’s zoning bylaw, but if she loses, she worries about the impact it could have on the wildlife.

“My concern is the animals and the animals in the future that are going to need our help that we are not going to be able to accept while we are doing huge renovations and essentially going bankrupt trying to rebuild cages that are perfectly functional right now,” says Newhouse.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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