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Should Tree Fort Stay? [Poll]

Mike Bronko built a tree fort for his adopted 11-year-old son and is now being told to take it down after neighbors complained to borough officials.

 

It’s a cherished place where many young people go to hang out with friends, see the world from a different perspective and just be a kid.

It’s a tree fort, similar to those commonly seen in the backyards and nearby woods on residential property all over America.

That is why Burgess Mike Bronko thought he was doing the right thing when he built one for his nephew, Zac, whom the Bronkos recently adopted. It was a present for Zac's 11th birthday.

"He's never asked us for anything, but he wanted this tree fort in the worst way," said Bronko, a former mayor of Naugatuck between 2007 and 2009 and a builder by trade who lives on Fairfield Court on the borough's west side.  

Now Bronko is fighting to keep what has become known as “fort Bronko” after a neighbor, with whom the Bronkos have had a longstanding feud, complained about the structure. The borough’s zoning enforcement officer told Bronko to remove the tree fort because he didn’t have a permit.

The town’s Zoning Commission agreed with ZEO Steve Macary’s decision. There are no zoning regulations specifically regarding tree forts, and Bronko said borough officials told him that he didn’t need a permit.

Bronko says he just doesn't want to let down the boy he calls "son." 

"He's brokenhearted to think that his birthday present, his tree fort that was all he wanted, might have to be taken down," Bronko said. "...He really doesn't understand this, and it's really tearing us apart to even have to think about these things. But, unfortunately, that is the reality of things."

Bronko hopes the reality changes.

On Tuesday, in between interviews with local and regional TV news stations over the flap (see a story from Fox CT, CT Now, here), he applied to have his case heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

"We're going to fight this all the way through and see where it takes us," he said. 

Macary has been ill and left work early Tuesday; therefore, he could not be reached for comment. Mayor Bob Mezzo said that as a rule, the borough does not get involved with land use matters, particularly those between private citizens.

We want to know how you feel about the tree fort. Please take our poll, and tell us further how you feel in our comments section.

Michael September 14, 2012 at 02:43 PM
We all should feel equally frustrated by the Finlay's. This is why we all pay the ridiculously high property tax to begin with. Crap like this that is spun out of proportions and ties up town resources and money. I for one will avoid any business with the Finlay family. thanks for wasting our tax dollars because you can't grow up.
Amy Britton September 17, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Naugy teens are stabbing eachother, vandalizing, and selling drugs...let this man raise his nephew right and allow him to keep being a kid; maybe the streets will leave him alone! Let us focus on the real problems in this town!
Christine Sedita September 18, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Haha, I love it. It's true. It is actually illegal to put a free standing bunny hutch for a bunny in my own back yard, that I thought I owned. It's ridiculous. I see people with piles of trash near their home, grass a mile high, a dozen cars in their yards, and broken fences all over town. Yet, this family is being harrassed over a tree fort. Tree forts aren't permanent fixtures, and they are not sheds, or hutches. When I was little, we had tons of tree forts, tee pees, club houses, and more. I would rather see a sturdy built tree fort, than a dozen plastic play houses littering a yard. (I have no problem with the plastic houses, but I am saying aesthetically speaking)
Sharon Pratt September 25, 2012 at 01:40 PM
The neighbor really needs to grow up! How can anyone be so disgusting to take this away from a child just because he has a silly feud with the adults? The ignorance floors me
Paul Singley September 26, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Update on Sept. 25: Tree fort can stay. Read it here: http://naugatuck.patch.com/articles/tree-fort-can-stay-on-bronko-s-property-for-now

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