FAIRFIELD — A dispute over a large pile of logs and tree trunks stored on a Southport property is headed to court.
In October, Roberto and Nikki Porzio were issued a cease and desist order for 15 Hulls Highway, a corner property that sits next to Izzo and Sons on the Post Road, and across the street from Organika Kitchen and Garelick & Herbs. The couple, who own Bert’s Tree Service in Westport, purchased the small Cape in February. The house is located in a designed commercial district, and according to zoning officials, the storage of logs and firewood is not a permitted use.
“It’s ridiculous,” Roberto Porzio said. “I know it’s a commercial property. It got a bit disorderly, because I had to put $80,000 to $100,000 worth of work into the house, so there’s been construction going on.”
Porzio said he’d like to be able to sell the wood as pulpwood to paper mills.
“It has to be drained when you sell to a paper mill,” he said. “I’m tired of wood going into the landfill... Now, the town’s breaking my chops.”
He said he often has people who shop at Organika Kitchen, a eatery across the street from Porzio’s property, park in front of his property and he has no problem with it — in fact, he said, he may put down some gravel to give them a place to park.
This isn’t the first time the Porzio’s have gotten into a court case over logs. In 2015, the town of Easton took the couple to court over the stacks of logs at a property they owned on Stepney Road. Eventually, they reached an out of court settlement with the town after convincing them the wood was for personal use by themselves and family members. The settlement also limited the size of the pile, and the hours when wood could be delivered or machinery such as chainsaws used.
The town’s zoning enforcement officer issued a cease and desist order on Oct. 3, which gave the Porzios 30 days to remove the logs. When they failed to comply, a complaint was filed in state Superior Court in Bridgeport on Nov. 17, seeking both a temporary and permanent injunctions and forcing the removal of the logs A court hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 6.
Porzio said he will be at the hearing. “Yeah, I’ll go to court and battle the socialist town I bought a house in,” Porzio said. “What if I add a fireplace to the house? I can’t store firewood?”
Zoning officials said typically, homeowners can store about 3.5 cords of wood on their property. The wood being stored at the Hulls Highway house is not cut to firewood size.
Representative Town Meeting member Michael Herley, R-10, said several of his constituents brought the situation to his attention.
He said the concerns are not only that the log pile, which sits on the Post Road, is an eyesore, “but what, I believe, is a public safety issue. What is to prevent teenagers from climbing on these logs at night? What if someone gets hurt?”
Porzio said he’s been in the business for 20 years and knows how to safely store and stack the logs. The only way they would roll into the Post Road, he said, is if someone deliberately pushed them.
“This property owner needs to treat our neighborhood with respect and comply with this town order immediately for the safety of all who live and drive in this area of Southport,” Herley said.