FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Richard Holleran,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 84-28

 

Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Greenwich,

 

Respondent October 22, 1986

 

This case was originally heard on April 24, 1984 and was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction upon a finding that the complainant failed to file his complaint within 30 days of an alleged violation of the Freedom of Information Act. Upon appeal to Superior Court in Richard Holleran v. Freedom of Information Commission, et al., Docket No. 297957, Super. Ct., J.D. Hartford-New Britain at Hartford (Memorandum of Decision dated October 18, 1985), Judge Mary Hennessey ordered the Freedom of Information Commission to rehear the case in light of P.A. 84-136, "in order that the FOIC may determine whether the facts (and dates) indicate sufficient jurisdiction under this court's interpretation of Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-21i(b)." The matter was again heard as a contested case on August 5, 1986 pursuant to the Appellate Court's June 19, 1986 decision dismissing for lack of jurisdiction the Town of Greenwich's appeal of Judge Hennessey's decision, which appeal was designated as Docket No. A.C. 4661.

 

1. The first six paragraphs of the Final Decision in FIC Docket #84-28, dated August 8, 1984, are hereby incorporated as if more fully set forth herein.

 

2. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

3.     At a regular meeting held on October 4, 1983 the respondent considered "site plan #917," a preliminary plan for retail/office/church uses of "St. Mary's" at 200 Greenwich Avenue. The respondent voted to advise the applicant to proceed to final plan subject to certain conditions, including the obtaining of a variance from the planning and zoning board of appeals [PZBA] for church use above 12,000 sq. ft.

 

Docket #FIC 84-28 Page Two

 

4. In a memorandum dated November 1, 1983, the zoning enforcement officer [ZEO] for the Town of Greenwich notified the respondent that "[a]fter reviewing the testimony of the St. Mary's Appeal No. 6177 and discussing its use with Mr. Paul Lynch, Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals and other Board members, we are of the opinion that the granting of the variance for the parish hall use is incidental to the other uses, . . . [and that] the additional 2,000 square feet will not require another hearing before the Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals." The memorandum was also signed by the chairman of the PZBA.

 

5. At a regular meeting held on December 15, 1983 the respondent approved the site plan for St. Mary's Church/Trafalgar House Real Estate, Inc. and granted a special permit authorizing the construction of a commercial building at 200 Greenwich Avenue.

 

6. The complainant alleges that the November 1, 1983 memorandum was the result of an illegal, secret or unnoticed meeting of the PZBA and that the December 15, 1983 action of the respondent taken in reliance upon such memorandum must, therefore, be declared null and void.

 

7. It is found that among the responsibilities of the ZEO is the responsibility of offering interpretations of and opinions on zoning regulations. The ZEO, who is not a member of the PZBA, discussed the "St. Mary's" application with the chairman of the board of appeals and issued a memorandum which reflected his interpretation, in consultation with the chairman of the PZBA, of applicable zoning regulations. Although the memorandum referred to other members of the PZBA, in fact only the ZEO and the chairman of the PZBA were involved in the discussion.

 

8. It is further found that the discussion between the ZEO and the chairman of the PZBA was not a "meeting" within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S. and did not violate 1-21(a), G.S. as alleged by the complainant.

 

9. The complainant did not allege that the December 15, 1983 meeting of the respondent was secret, unnoticed or otherwise procedurally defective except to the extent that the respondent relied upon the November 1, 1983 memorandum in reaching its decision on the "St. Mary's" application.

 

10. The complainant's request for relief with respect to the respondent's December 15, 1983 action on the "St. Mary's" application is, therefore, denied.

 

Docket #FIC 84-28 Page Three

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.

 

1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 22, 1986.

 

Karen J. Haggett

Acting Clerk of the Commission