Guilford wildlife rescuer loses zoning pray to stay open: ‘My life is over’

GUILFORD — The Planning and Zoning Commission has denied Eunice Demond’s application to keep her animal rescue operation behind her home.

A tearful Demond, reached after the vote late Wednesday, said, “My life is over. Everything I’ve done for years, my entire … life was just thrown down the toilet.”

Demond has operated Little Rascals, taking in baby raccoons, squirrels and other animals for about 10 years at 311 Old Whitfield St., near the Guilford train station, but in November her next-door neighbor, William Freeman, emailed the zoning enforcement officer and health director, alling flies, rats, odor and other issues. Those issues have been cleared up, according to the town. Freeman, an alternate on the PZC, recused himself from Demond’s case.

Demond was issued a cease-and-desist order, which she has appealed. She said she also will appeal the PZC’s decision. “I’m not giving up. Granted it’s taken a toll on me tonight, but I’m not giving up because they’re wrong,” she said.

Commissioners expressed concerns that her animal rescue is not allowed in a residential zone and that she had not proved Little Rascals was a “nonprofit philanthropic” operation. Sean Cosgrove said that “having sufficient funding [to] sustain itself is very important to the town and the neighborhood.”

“We are all very empathetic to the work that Eunice does,” said Chairman Philip Johnson. “One of the difficulties that we have is that, despite our feelings about the good work, our charge is as a land-use commission and to make sure that what is being applied for fits with the regulations that we have.”

“Our charge is the zoning code and that’s basically it, regardless of how one feels about what goes on there, it’s the zoning code that we’re here to do and that’s my bottom line,” said Richard Wallace.

Others said while the wildlife rescue may not be allowed in the land-use regulations, the commission could issue a special permit, which it has done in the past.

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