FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Charles Dixon and the Waterbury Republican American,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 86-100

 

Selectmen of the Town of Salisbury,

 

Respondent July 1, 1986

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 1, 1986, at which time it was continued to May 27, 1986. On May 27, 1986 the complainants and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

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

 

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

 

2. On March 31, 1986 a group of architects addressed a gathering of the three members of the respondent and a group of approximately 20 townspeople regarding plans for a new town hall. The respondent provided no notice of the gathering.

 

3. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on April 11, 1986 the complainants alleged that the March 31, 1986 gathering was a meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S. and that the failure to provide notice of the meeting violated 1-21(a), G.S.

 

4. It is found that decisions regarding the construction of the new town hall are made exclusively by the respondent.

 

5. At the March 31, 1986 gathering members of the public had the opportunity to address the architects regarding proposals for the new town hall. A previously-held public hearing before the Historic District Commission on the same topic had been characterized by unpleasant exchanges and by the domination of the discussion by a few individuals.

 

6. It is found that the March 31, 1986 discussion was organized by the first selectman to allow a limited number of individuals the opportunity to address the architects without competition from more vociferous members of the public.


Docket #FIC 86-100 Page Two

 

7. The respondent claims that none of its members participated in the discussion, that its members did not even sit together and that, in fact, the gathering was an assembly of members of the public at which the members of the respondent were in attendance.

 

8. It is found, however, that the March 31, 1986 gathering was organized to allow the respondent to gain information for its use in the making of decisions regarding the new town hall.

 

9. It is concluded that the March 31, 1986 gathering of the three members of the respondent, members of the public and architects to discuss the construction of a new town hall was communication to a quorum of a multimember public agency, in person, to discuss a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power and that such gathering was, therefore, a meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.

 

10. It is further concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S. when it failed to provide public notice of the March 31, 1986 gathering.

 

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

 

1. The respondent shall henceforth act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S. regarding the public's right to access to meetings of public agencies.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 25, 1986.

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission