SOUTHINGTON — A disgruntled landowner with a decades-long complaint against the town was removed from the Town Council podium by police during Monday night’s meeting after he refused requests to leave.
Ilio Fusciello has been attending council meetings since the 1980s, demanding compensation for land development rights he claims the town denied him. During recent meetings he’s asked the council to take up his complaint.
“Put me on the agenda,” Fusciello said Monday. “I want to get paid.”
On Monday, despite pleading from council members, Fusciello refused to leave the podium during public comment and continued demands to get on the agenda.
Council Chairman Chris Palmieri recessed the meeting, as he’s done for the past few months, and told Fusciello that police were on their way. Three police officers arrived and asked Fusciello to talk with them outside, which he did.
Fusciello was not ultimately charged. He did not return a call for comment Wednesday.
Dawn Miceli, council vice chairwoman, said she knows Fusciello through her church and described him as a quiet and lovely man outside of council chambers. Over the past few months, though, she said his behavior has “turned an unfortunate corner.”
“It seems to be getting a little worse where each time we’re having to take a longer recess,” Miceli said. “At this point there definitely is an impairment to the meetings.”
In 2001 and 2002, the council voted against paying Fusciello nearly $250,000. He wanted the money in compensation for land he bought in 1971 thinking he could develop it into more lots than allowed by zoning regulations.
Miceli said many council leaders, town managers and town attorneys have heard Fusciello’s issue but that he doesn’t accept the town’s explanation.
“The council has ruled on this time and time and time again,” she said. “I’m not sure what the resolve is. How many more attorneys are we going to ask about this?”
Fusciello’s loud demands for payments and insults directed at current and former town leaders have been an irritation to councilors who have tried different tactics to appease him. Palmieri, who became council chairman two years ago, started ordering a recess when Fusciello would refuse to sit down after his allotted time at the podium during public comment.
During the recess Monday night, Fusciello argued with councilors. Councilor Michael Riccio told Fusciello that he was never getting on the agenda.
Riccio, a former Planning and Zoning Commission member, said the lots Fusciello bought weren’t buildable at the time of the sale. After a request from his attorney, the town gave him an exception and allowed him two buildable rear lots. Fusciello hasn’t sold or developed them.
“Ilio, you made a request, we granted that request, and you’re still coming back? Nope,” Riccio said.
Riccio said the council should prohibit Fusciello from speaking on the topic at council meetings but doubts the measure will be adopted by council leadership.
“I believe it would stand up in court,” he said.
Miceli said Fusciello has a constitutional right to speak to the council although was concerned at how he’s increasingly disrupted meetings.
“Everything comes to a stop,” she said.
Fusciello was arrested for disorderly conduct and interfering with an officer at Town Hall in 2003. He was given a temporary restraining order to stay out of town buildings in 2006.
“I don’t think anyone wants to see him charged with anything. I know I certainly don’t,” Miceli said.