In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Martin A. Lang,




against Docket #FIC 86-255


Station Three Firehouse Committee of the Town of Fairfield,


Respondent January 14, 1987


The above captioned matter was scheduled for hearing on October 7, 1986, at which time it was continued to October 29, 1986, at which time the parties appeared and presented evidence 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 complaint filed with the Commission on September 9, 1986, the complainant alleged, among other things, that the respondent failed to provide copies of minutes of meetings of the respondent.


3. By letter dated August 12, 1986, the complainant requested minutes of the meetings of the Station Three Firehouse Committee (the building committee) which were deposited with the town clerk from June 1985 through July 1986.


4. By telephone, the town clerk attempted to discover more precisely what minutes the complainant sought.


5. After concluding that the complainant was not interested in minutes of meetings which took place before February 1986, she requested that the Firehouse Committee Secretary provide these to the complainant.


Docket #FIC 86-255 page two


6. Thereafter no minutes for the building committee were provided to the complainant until the day of the hearing held before the Freedom of Information Commission.


7. The respondent committee was charged with site selection for a new firehouse.


8. It is found that a meeting of the respondent was held on March 27, 1986, which included a public hearing and an executive session, and that no minutes of this meeting were compiled.


9. It is found that on June 30, 1986, a subcommittee of members of the respondent held a meeting in which they inspected potential sites for the firehouse and made a decision to recommend specific sites for land acquisition, but that no minutes of this meeting were compiled.


10. It is found that on July 1 and 2, 1986, members of the respondent telephoned the members of the building committee to determine if the site chosen by them for the firehouse was acceptable.


11. It is concluded that the telephone calls made by members of the subcommittee of the respondent to members of the building committee was a meeting of the respondent within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S. because it was communication by or to a quorum of a multi-member public agency, by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.


12. No minutes were filed concerning the telephonic meeting conducted by members of the subcommittee of the respondent with members of the respondent on July 1 and July 2, 1986.


13. It is concluded that the respondent failed to file minutes for its meetings on March 27, June 30, and July 1 and 2, 1986.


14. The complainant seeks an order declaring the June 30, 1986 action of the committee null and void, and the imposition of a civil penalty upon the members of the respondent who are responsible for its failure to file minutes.


Docket #FIC 86-255 page three


15. It is found that, under the circumstances of the case, neither a civil penalty nor any order declaring the recommendation of a site null and void is appropriate.


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 comply with the minutes requirements of 1-21 and 1-19(a), G. S.


2. The Commission urges the respondent to make a much greater effort to keep the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act in mind, and to give them the same priority as the tasks for which the respondent is established.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 14, 1987


Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission