This Ridgefield facility has been closed by the state. Local authorities are trying to save him.

RIDGEFIELD – A popular food truck that has run on Route 7 for more than a decade is looking for a new place to park after a site inspection found it was breaking regulations by the State.

The Zawack Shack normally parked on a freeway opposite the Days Inn by Wyndham, just a mile north of Branchville. It has sold lunch items to townspeople, truckers and travelers for 11 years and has become a staple restaurant during the pandemic as it is flanked by picnic tables.

But on October 7, state officials ordered Greg Zawacki to shut down amid the lunch rush. Zawacki’s mother, Joan, said they had had an hour to leave the site. The state Department of Transportation did not respond to requests for comment.

According to a regulation of the Department of Motor Vehicles, “No person, firm or company shall distribute, sell or offer for sale any goods within the right-of-way of the freeway, except in the facilities provided and as defined in the contracts with Commissioner “.

“The property, from what we understand, has always been a withdrawal zone,” said Joan Zawacki, who assists with the business.

The Zawacki attempted to secure a lease for the area when they opened the business, but the application was denied, Joan Zawacki said. The state, however, allowed the owners to operate on condition that they obtained city approval and that they purchased insurance on the truck, she said. Both conditions were maintained, she added.

“This is how we did it for 10 years,” said first manager Rudy Marconi. “We never received anything in writing and unfortunately if we had … maybe we would be on dry land, but we are not.”

Joan Zawacki filed an Freedom of Information request with the state Department of Transportation to determine whether a complaint had been filed against the company. But in an e-mail of November 5, Melanie Fadoir, a real estate agent in charge of supervising the rights of way division of the State Ministry of Transport, informed her that the violation had been found during a inspection of the site, and then referred the matter back to the district for enforcement. .

“The department has… several leases along the Highway 7 corridor for signs and encroachments from neighboring landlords, so staff are monitoring these leases,” Fadoir wrote.

She added, “The district sends letters to neighboring landowners when they encroach on the right-of-way; that is to say; have an illegal sign, parking, fixed objects, and give 30 days to fix it.

The Zawacki never received a 30-day notice, Joan Zawacki said.

“Greg… literally built this business from scratch,” she added. “The DMV regulation (has been) on the books for 50 years. … Why all of a sudden?

Although Zawack Shack is officially closed for the year, the family are looking for a solution to ensure they can open this spring.

“The commissioner could write us a special permit to be there,” Joan Zawacki said. “We always want to be good neighbors and maintain the property… No one maintains the property except us. “

State Senator Will Haskell, D-Westport, said that while the Department of Transportation is the only body with the authority to issue a right-of-way operating permit, it is unable to do so because the area is designated. as a right of way.

“I am as frustrated as anyone,” he added. “It’s a beloved local institution that poses no risk to Route 7 and the drivers along that route, but the rules don’t bend that way.”

Marconi said he would call DOT commissioner Joseph Giulietti to discuss the situation. The city also intends to assess other areas along Route 7 to see if the truck can park on private or municipal property, rather than state property.

“None of them are built like this area that can accommodate trucks, that can get off the road safely, and that’s another consideration,” he noted. “Where’s a safe place where a truck (driver) can pull over to the side for a quick bite?” “

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