Wildlife rescue gets a break from Chelmsford
The 10-foot setback rule for enclosures has been waived, allowing the facility to continue operations.
A fox at Newhouse Wildlife Rescue that has since been released. Chelmsford officials have rescinded the order requiring the relocation of several animal enclosures at the facility.
By Cindy Cantrell, Globe Correspondent

Newhouse Wildlife Rescue may continue regular operations now that the town of Chelmsford has rescinded its previous zoning violation notice requiring the relocation of several animal enclosures that do not adhere to the 10-foot setback stipulated in the town charter.

Chelmsford Building Commissioner Jose Negron shared his decision in a letter dated Sept. 14 to Attorney Melissa Robbins, a partner at Farrell & Robbins in Westford who is representing rescue founder Jane Newhouse, pro bono.

Robbins had petitioned for the reversal based on the Dover Amendment, the common name for Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40A, Section 3, which exempts agricultural, religious, and educational uses from certain zoning restrictions.

In the letter, Negron acknowledged the structures are an “integrated and incidental part of the educational component;’’ their relocation (which Newhouse estimated would cost $60,000) would create a financial burden; and the nonprofit located in Newhouse’s yard has not changed the characteristics of its residential neighborhood.

“Obviously, it’s a huge sense of relief,’’ said Newhouse, who trains fellow licensed wildlife rehabilitators, visits schools and libraries, and provides online education to her Facebook followers and Patreon subscribers. “We can’t build any more [structures] — he was clear on that — but there’s no room anyway, so we’re good with that.’’

“Quite honestly, it really does do something good for your soul to help a nonprofit like this stay in operation.’’ said Robbins, a longtime Facebook follower of the rescue. “And as a land use development attorney, I don’t always get to say that. It’s the best possible outcome, and I’m happy to be involved.’’

Cindy Cantrell can be reached at cindycantrell20@gmail.com.