FAIRFIELD — A Westport couple has until Jan. 20, 2018, to remove all logs, tree trunks and wood from 15 Hulls Highway, a judge has ordered.
Roberto and Nikki Porzio purchased the property, at the corner of the Post Road in the town’s Southport section, at the beginning of this year. Shortly thereafter, they began storing the logs and tree trunks on the property, in violation of town zoning regulations.
Bridgeport Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis Wednesday issued a temporary injunction requiring all the logs be removed, and that once the material is gone, no wood be stored there in the future.
For every day after Jan. 20, the logs are still there the Porzios will be fined $50, per day.
According to Town Attorney Stanton Lesser, if the logs are removed by the deadline, he will withdraw the town’s court case against the Porzios.
At first, it seemed the matter was headed to a full-blown hearing because the Porzios did not want to have a court order issued in the matter. “We don’t want a court order because we don’t feel it’s necessary,” Nikki Porzio said.
“I said I was going to take it out by Jan. 1,” Roberto Porzio said. “I promised Matt Decker I would take care of this. I’m a man of my word.”
He said Decker, the zoning enforcement officer, agreed to the Jan. 1 date but “the next thing I knew, we’re being sued.”
Town officials said when a cease and desist order was first issued in October, Roberto Porzio told Decker that he would have the property cleared by the first of next year. However, town officials said instead Porzio began to bring more wood to the property — as recently as Thanksgiving Day — prompting the decision to take the couple, owners of Bret’s Tree Service, to court.
Lesser was reluctant to any agreement with the Porzios that did not include some sort of court record.
The Porzios, who represented themselves in court, also filed a motion to dismiss the town’s claim, stating that it was moot due to the agreement with Decker.
Bellis rejected that motion. “I can’t force anybody to withdraw their case,” Bellis said. “If you don’t agree to having a judgment entered, it will go to a hearing.”
She explained to the Porzios that the town was seeking a judgment and order to “memorialize” any agreement.
“Even if I accept everything as true, it wouldn’t be a basis to dismiss the case,” Bellis said. “The plaintiff has a right to proceed and memorialize what they want in a judgment if they prevail.”
When it looked like the matter would be assigned to a trial judge, Roberto Porzio said, “I just want to get the wood out. If he wants a court order, I have no problem with that.”
Bellis sent the Porzios and Lesser back into the hallway for another discussion to come up with the wording of the temporary injunction she ultimately issued.
Prior to issuing the injunction, Bellis told the Porzios that once done, they could not change their mind.
“It’s no problem, your honor,” Roberto Porzio said. “I understand.”