FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Novo Laboratories, Inc.,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 86-225

 

State of Connecticut Department of Transportation Traffic Commission,

 

Respondent March 11, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 8, 1986, continued to October 7, 1986, and then again continued to December 8, 1986, at which times the complainant 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. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on August 14, 1986 the complainant alleged certain failures by the respondent to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

 

3. It is found that in December, 1985, pursuant to 14-311(a), G.S., The Danbeth Partners ("Danbeth") submitted an application to the respondent for a certificate regarding the proposed construction of an office complex known as the Connecticut Corporate Campus ("corporate campus"). A report on Danbeth's application was considered and the requested certificate, numbered 605, was granted at a June 17, 1986 meeting of the respondent.

 

4. At hearing, Danbeth was granted intervenor status to participate at the hearing level only.

 

5. Danbeth moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Commission failed to designate it as a party and provide it with notice of the Commission's proceedings pursuant to Regulations of Conn. State Agencies 1-21j-27 and 1-21j-32 and 4-177, G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 86-225 Page Two

 

6. It is found that the complaint alleged no acts or omissions by Danbeth and that with respect to the complainant's allegations Danbeth has no cognizable rights, duties or privileges. After granting Danbeth permission to participate as an intervenor, the Commission provided it with notice of hearings pursuant to Regulations of Conn. State Agencies 1-21j-32.

 

7. Danbeth's motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Commission failed to provide notice of its proceedings is therefore denied.

 

8. By letter to the respondent dated February 3, 1986 the complainant stated its opposition to the proposed corporate campus and requested the opportunity to address the respondent on the matter. The complainant requested notice of any hearings involving the Danbeth request.

 

9. By letter to the complainant dated February 14, 1986 the respondent, through its executive director, agreed to provide the requested notice and invited the complainant to submit, "in the near future," traffic data in connection with the Danbeth application.

 

10. On February 25, 1986 the complainant made a request of the respondent for a copy of the entire corporate campus file. On the same date the entire corporate campus file was made available to the complainant for inspection, and copies were provided of those documents specifically requested.

 

11. The complainant alleges that the February 25, 1986 request for records was a continuing request and that the respondent failed to provide documents received subsequent to that date, in violation of 1-15, G.S.

 

12. It is found that the complainant's February 25, 1986 request was for a copy of the corporate campus file, which request was granted. The complainant made no request, expressly or implicitly, for copies of documents filed after that date.

 

13. It is concluded that the respondent's response to the complainant's February 25, 1986 request for records did not violate 1-15 or 1-19(a), G.S.

 

14. It is found that the complaint was filed more than 30 days after the respondent's June 17, 1986 meeting, that such meeting was not unnoticed or secret within the meaning of 1-21i(b), G.S. and that the Freedom of Information Commission therefore lacks jurisdiction over allegations relating to the conduct and notice of such meeting.

 

Docket #FIC 86-225 Page Three

 

15. The respondent's motion to dismiss the portion of the complaint which relates to the June 17, 1986 meeting is hereby granted.

 

16. By letters dated July 7, 1986 the complainant made requests of the respondent for certified copies of all records concerning the Danbeth application and the issuance by the respondent of certificate no. 605 and for notices of meetings, pursuant to 1-21c, G.S. The complainant asked that its request for certified copies be considered a continuing request, in effect until December 1, 1986.

 

17. On July 15, 1986 the respondent provided the complainant with copies of most of the documents relating to the Danbeth matter. The agenda and minutes of the June 17, 1986 meeting of the respondent were provided on or about September 4, 1986 and a vicinity map and site plans were provided on December 8, 1986. Such documents had been filed separately and were omitted through an oversight.

 

18. It is found that the respondent's failure to promptly provide copies of all records relating to the Danbeth application violated 1-15, G.S.

 

19. The complainant claims the documents released on July 15, 1986 revealed "numerous meetings" held in violation of the Freedom of Information Act. Based upon such alleged illegal meetings the complainant requests that the actions of the respondent at its June 17, 1986 meeting be declared null and void.

 

20. It is found that the respondent exists pursuant to 14-298, G.S., and is composed of the commissioners of transportation, motor vehicles and public safety. Pursuant to Regulations of Conn. State Agencies, 14-298-263, reports and recommendations are submitted to the respondent by the DOT--bureau of highways--office of traffic for review at the respondent's regularly scheduled monthly meetings.

 

21. It is found that between the submission of Danbeth's application and the granting of the certificate on June 17, 1986, Danbeth and representatives of the DOT, including the executive director of the respondent, engaged in exchanges, written and oral, of ideas and information, as part of the review process contemplated by 14-311(b), (c) and (d), G.S. Such exchanges did not constitute meetings within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 86-225 Page Four

 

22. The review process included a gathering, on April 3, 1986, of four Danbeth representatives, the executive director of the respondent and four representatives of the DOT's office of traffic. The purpose of such gathering was the review of staff comments concerning data submitted by Danbeth.

 

23. It is found that no member of the respondent attended the April 3, 1986 gathering. It is further found that such gathering was not a hearing or other proceeding of a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S. Rather, it was a staff meeting of the DOT within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.

 

24. It is concluded that the April 3, 1986 gathering referred to at paragraph 22, above, did not constitute a meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S. and that failure to provide notice of such gathering did not violate any provision of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

25. The Commission hereby grants the respondent's motion to dismiss the portion of the complaint alleging that illegal meetings were held between, approximately, February 25, 1986 and June 17, 1986 to discuss Danbeth's application.

 

26. The complainant's request for relief regarding the respondent's June 17, 1986 action on the Danbeth application is hereby denied.

 

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 1-15, G.S. regarding prompt access to copies of public records.

 

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 11, 1987.

 

Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission