FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Fred Radford,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 86-215

 

Clerk, Zoning Board of Appeals, Clerk, Planning and Zoning Commission and First Selectman of the Town of Trumbull,

 

Respondents November 18, 1986

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 4, 1986, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

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

 

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

 

2. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on August 4, 1986 the complainant alleged that the minutes of the zoning board of appeals's meeting of July 2, 1986 and the minutes of the planning and zoning commission's meetings of July 9, 1986 and July 16, 1986 had not been "transcribed." The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty.

 

3. All minutes in question had been prepared and placed on file as of the date of hearing. The respondents concede that the minutes were not prepared within the time limits of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

4. On July 14, 1986 the zoning board of appeals placed on file with the town clerk a "notice of action" indicating its disposition of variance requests considered at its July 2, 1986 meeting. The notice of action was dated July 7, 1986. Also submitted to the town clerk on July 14, 1986, July 15, 1986 and July 22, 1986 were letters to those persons whose requests had been considered which described more fully the board's actions.

 

Docket #FIC 86-215 Page Two

 

5. On July 18, 1986 the planning and zoning commission placed on file with the town clerk a "notice of action" indicating its disposition of the applications for subdivision plans considered at its July 9, 1986 meeting. Attached to the "notice" were letters, dated July 17, 1986, to those persons whose applications had been denied which described the reasons for the commission's actions. The notice itself was on file in the office of the planning and zoning commission on or about July 11, 1986.

 

6. The respondents claim that tape recordings of the meetings in question were available following each meeting for persons interested in reviewing the proceedings. The respondents also claim that the notices of action placed on file with the town clerk complied with the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S. regarding minutes. Such notices were also published in a newspaper within 15 days of the meetings to which they referred.

 

7. It is found that the existence of tape recordings of the meetings in question did not satisfy the minutes requirements of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

8. The notice of action placed on file by the zoning board of appeals with respect to its July 2, 1986 meeting did not indicate the votes of each of its members on the issues before it and did not indicate the date of the meeting at which the action was taken.

 

9. It is concluded that the respondent clerk of the zoning board of appeals failed to prepare and make available for public inspection in a timely manner minutes of the board's July 2, 1986 meeting, in violation of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

10. The notice of action placed on file by the planning and zoning commission with respect to its July 9, 1986 meeting did not indicate the votes of each of its members on the issues before it.

 

11. It is concluded that the respondent clerk of the planning and zoning commission failed to prepare and make available for public inspection in a timely manner minutes of either the July 9, 1986 or July 16, 1986 meetings of the planning and zoning commission, in violation of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

12. The Commission notes that with a slightly greater attention to detail, the notices of action prepared by the respondents would have met the requirements of 1-19(a) and 1-21(a), G.S. regarding the keeping of minutes. The Commission, therefore, declines to impose a civil penalty as requested by the complainant.

 

Docket #FIC 86-215 Page Three

 

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

 

1. The respondent clerk of the zoning board of appeals and the respondent clerk of the planning and zoning commission shall henceforth act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-19(a) and 1-21(a), G.S. regarding the timely preparation of minutes of meetings. Failure to so comply in the future may result in the imposition of civil penalties of up to $1,000.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of November 18, 1986.

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission