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.

Chris Herrity September 12, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Agreed!! Or better yet, let him stagnate in the house, playing video games all day long or watch TV.......seriously!! Leave the tree fort where it is!!
Chris Herrity September 12, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Let this poor family keep the treehouse!! Anything that encourages children to spend time outside is a good thing - too many of our children spend their days glued to the latest and greatest in electronic devices. A tree fort encourages play,imagination, and physical activity (climbing the tree). Kudos to Mr. Bronko for making that little boy's dream a reality, and shame on the neighbor who would tear that down....as for Zoning and the Building Department - maybe they should focus more on the illegal structures that go up frequently around the Borough. I have a neighbor who has constructed two sheds and an enormous deck in his yard (all without permits), and while Steve Macary was wonderful about getting one of the sheds removed, the concrete footings remain an eyesore to the neighborhood. Keep up the fight Mike - here's hoping someone sees this for what it is and overrules the decision!!!
Michael September 12, 2012 at 06:15 PM
How ridiculous this whole thing is. And we wonder why kids are on drugs or obese couch potatoes. We won't allow them to even be kids anymore. I won't even start on all the over burdening laws we have in affect. Let's spend another $100,000 investigating whether this tree house should be torn down. What a joke the people are in town, state, federal government agencies/departments along with all the lawmakers who overburden us with new dimwitted laws each year. The tree house stays, the neighbor and the dimwitted agency jerk who blew this up to this proportion goes!
Andrew Hanson September 12, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Maybe we need a Treehouse Commission to settle it! Not! If it isn't in the regulations then it can't be illegal. For God sakes doesn't anybody see the government regulates too much already. Let him have his treehouse and move on to something much more important.
naugy mom September 12, 2012 at 06:49 PM
i agree! we had a fort growing up and noone cared. its a part of growing up dont take a wonderful right of passage away from a kid!
Mr. Chips September 12, 2012 at 07:01 PM
It is a sad day when private property is no longer private. The iron fist of governmental oversight is once again encroaching upon personal freedoms.
Gerry michaud September 12, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Let the tree house stay,,,i for one would not take it down ,,just another reason why people are leaving naugy.
Naugybride September 12, 2012 at 07:41 PM
The same thing happened to my brother 10 years ago. My parents had to take down the fort that was on their own property because the town said it was against regulations.
Ron Fischer September 12, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I have a runner for my dog in my back yard. Is this going to be deemed ilegal? I agree with everything that I see here so far. The tree house should stay. It's not doing any harm.
Eric September 12, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Welcome to the United States of America where you are not even free to enjoy a tree house.
Marie Serio DellaValle September 12, 2012 at 09:42 PM
I agree with Mary. The person who reported them and wants it down has personal issues and if they have been feuding for years, this is just their way of getting revenge. But, Mr. Bronko, i see nothing wrong with this. Hope your son gets to keep his tree house and enjoys it; i just hope it is safe.
John September 12, 2012 at 11:28 PM
My flower pots are not in the regulations...They must be illegal... And, the slippery Slope begins. Fire the oh so intellegent leagl council that was hired on this one, it will save the town some valuable time and money.
SILENT WOLF September 13, 2012 at 12:26 AM
I don't see a problem unless it is a eyesore . Also it should be located in a safe place on the property .Like a pool it should be where you can't readily see it and that it dosen't take away property value....
Lynn September 13, 2012 at 01:16 AM
I wouldn't doubt if they try and tax it!!!
Bryan Cottrell September 13, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Next step for all of us who are in agreement is to refuse to vote for anyone involved in this, fight any further appointment to town position for those involved in this atrocity of a decision. Ask yourselves if these are the persons we want making decisions in OUR town? To the town lawyers whom handled this, was this in the best interest of a Naugatuck resident? NO. Grow a spine and stand up for the majority, not the lone whiner. I ask whos tree house is next to come down? Have you land use and zoning folks made that decision? Or are you using a caring family as an example. Why not just answer why? Follow that up with the town codes or regulations that require the removal of said structure. My guess is that there will be no comment. You owe the people an explination for your actions. Man up and follow up the patch article with the concrete facts as to why. And please let us know the schedule of demolition for the truely illegal structures here in town. My guess is that there is no such schedule. Its funny because I remember a treehouse that stood at the corner of Candee, Horton and Maple Hill for decades. Where was the action there. You are all wrong. Give the boy his tree house back and stop being pawns in the game.
Joe Norton September 13, 2012 at 12:45 PM
To Mike as I said to you outside ed's hardware, Don't take it down! Your boy will remember this all his life. Fight Fight Fight for your right.
Susan P O'Bernier September 13, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Now heres the intelligent & compassionate people of Naugatuck speaking; and I agree leave the Fort !
Don Carten September 13, 2012 at 02:44 PM
OMG !!! I just realized what a criminal I am. I have placed birdhouses in my back yard without submitting a building permit nor going before a town board and begging permission. Are birdhouses covered by our building code? If not, then they are illegal. And how about that doghouse? The town obviously needs to buy a helicopter so that the ZEO can cruise above our backyards in search such henious construction. Or another solution would to be to simply to use some common sense and ignore grinchy neighbors. If this ruling stands than every kid who drags his father's hammer, a pocket full of nails and some old boards into the woods is breaking the law.
jeannie armstrong September 13, 2012 at 04:33 PM
If the town needs something to do...drive down Wooster st and make people clean the mess.....leave this nice family alone...this child apparently is getting raised to play in a healthy way!! My kudos to mike and his wife and their family.
citizen September 13, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Unfortunately, it is not a problem exclusive to Naugatuck.
Jim SanAngelo September 13, 2012 at 10:24 PM
I don't believe the fortis the real issue here. These neighbors have been fueding for many years now, The town has been pulled into this fued in the past,and here we are again. I would bet this will cost taxpayers money sooner then later. Layers will be dragged in and taxpayers will pay.The Boro Board will spend time on the issue instead of other meaningful issues. Zoning is already involved and Im sure other departments also. these neighbors need to find a way to get along or bothe should move. I know Mike and respect him the other gentlemen i dont know but Im sure he isnt bad either. Fueds go way back and this is one of ours.
David V. DeRosa September 14, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Wow ... this is where the tax money is going. Sounds like we need a reduction in staff at town hall. I realize that we are going into the 4th year of a building drought, but instead of looking for nuisances, town officials need to spend their time not being a nuisance themselves. Just because a neighbor does not like something does not mean it is illegal. The zoning board's approval of this action is not based on an ordinance, then it is acting outside its authority. If the zoning board wants to start regulating tree houses, and passes an ordinance to that effect ... then the borough and the country are really in trouble.
HouseHunting September 14, 2012 at 03:08 AM
This is why i would never move to Naugatuck.
Don Carten September 14, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I agree. The neighbor should be ashamed to show his face (obviously he is, since he refused to be interviewed on camera) after dragging innocent children into his petty vendetta against the Bronkos.
Don Carten September 14, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Don't be so quick to judge our community based on the action of one petty individual. On the positive side, Mike Bronko is a former mayor and friend of the ZEO. It is obvious that in spite of this he isn't being afforded any special treatment. This speaks highly of the boards and officials involved. While apparently no one agrees with this ruling, everyone involved is following the letter of the law, as they should. I believe this situation will ultimately be satisfactorily settled through the appeals process and hopefully the law will be amended in such a way as to prevent this sort of ridicules situation from happening again.
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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