FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECSION

 

Stan Greenbaum,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 86-71

 

Paul Abott, Chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission of the Town of Kent; Planning & Zoning Commission of the Town of Kent; and the Town of Kent,

 

Respondents April 23, 1986

 

The above captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 3, 1986, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

After consideration of the entire record the following facts are found:

 

1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated February 13, 1986 the complainant made a request of the respondent chairman for the following documents:

 

(a) A copy of the corrected minutes of the August 14, 1985 zoning board meeting;

 

(b) A copy of the communication to Mr. Byrne from the respondents stating the "[complainant] had chosen to ignore the request of the Zoning Enforcement Officer;"

 

(c) A copy of the letter referred to in the minutes of November 13, 1985 from Mr. Byrne saying that the complainant's property was in compliance with the regulations;

 

Docket #FIC 86-71 Page 2

 

(d) Copies of the state and federal statutes adopted by the Town of Kent as part of the by-laws of the respondent commission;

 

(e) Copies of a violation notice and a letter sent to Mr. Frisbie which were referred to in the minutes of July 10, 1985; and

 

(f) A copy of the minutes for the respondent commission's meetings for the months of January and February, 1986.

 

3. By letter dated February 28, 1986 the complainant made a request of the respondent chairman for the following documents:

 

(a) A copy of the minutes of the meeting of February 26, 1986;

 

(b) A copy of the letter written by Attorney James Hirshfield to the respondent commission regarding the Freedom of Information hearing held on February 19, 1986;

 

(c) Copies of any communication between the respondent commission and Attorney Manasse regarding his representing the respondent commission in FIC 86-29;

 

(d) Copies of any communications pertaining to FIC 86-29 or FIC 86-44;

 

(e) A copy of Mr. Ocif's complaint to the respondent commission regarding illegal occupancy of an accessory building as a dwelling; and

 

(f) Copies of any communication between the commission and Mr. Ocif.

 

4. By letter dated March 1, 1986 the complainant requested of the respondent chairman copies of complaints allegedly submitted to the respondent commission by the complainant, as referred to in the minutes of the respondent commission's March 28, 1984 meeting. The complainant also requested that the minutes of the respondent commission's April 24, 1985 meeting be corrected to reflect certain changes regarding application 1297.

 

5. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on March 17, 1986 the complainant alleged that the respondents had failed to provide him with the requested records.

 

Docket #FIC 86-71 Page 3

 

6. The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondents.

 

7. At the hearing, the complainant and respondents agreed that the Commission could take administrative notice of testimony, evidence and exhibits in FIC #86-29 and FIC #86-44 and apply them to this case. Both parties also agreed that the record of those proceedings could be incorporated herein.

 

8. Also at the hearing, the complainant and respondents agreed that the Commission could take administrative notice of the testimony, evidence and exhibits in FIC #84-2 and FIC #82-95 and apply them to this case.

 

9. At the hearing, the respondents requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the complainant.

 

10. With respect to paragraph 2(a), above, it is found that the complainant was provided with a copy of the corrected minutes on March 6, 1986, more than ten days after receipt of his request.

 

11. It is found that the requested documents set forth in paragraphs 2(b) and 2(c), above, were the subject of FIC #86-29 and will therefore not be treated here.

 

12. It is found that the requested documents set forth in paragraphs 2(d) and 2(e), above, were the subject of FIC #86-44 and will therefore not be treated here.

 

13. With respect to paragraphs 2(f), 3(b) , 3(d) and 3(e), above, it is found that the complainant was provided with a copy of the requested records on March 6, 1986.

 

14. With respect to paragraph 3(a), above, it is found that the complainant was provided with a copy of the requested document on March 12, 1986.

 

15. With respect to paragraph 3(c) and 3(f), above, it is found that all communications were oral. The complainant was so notified by letter dated March 10, 1986.

 

Docket #FIC 86-71 Page 4

 

16. With respect to paragraph 4, above, it is found that no complaints exist. The complainant was so notified by letter dated March 10, 1986. It is further found that the corrections of the April 24, 1985 minutes will be discussed at the respondent commission's next monthly meeting.

 

17. It is found that the complainant was denied prompt access to the records set forth in paragraphs 2(a), 2(f) and 3(a), above, in violation of 1-15, G.S.

 

18. The respondents claim that because they were involved in two other contested cases with the complainant, there was a delay in complying with the complainant's subsequent requests.

 

19. It is found that absent state law or federal law to the contrary, copies of public records are to be promptly provided to any person who makes such a request, even if that person is involved in an adversarial proceeding with the public agency at the time of making the request.

 

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

 

1. The respondents shall henceforth act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-15, G.S., regarding the public's right to prompt access to copies of public records.

 

2. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty against either party as requested.

 

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 23, 1986.

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission