FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Paul Gough,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 87-308

 

Chairman, Town of Wallingford Public Utilities Commission, Water Pollution Control Authority and Town of Wallingford Public Utilities Commission, Water Pollution Control Authority,

 

Respondents February 10, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 1, 1987, 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. At a meeting held September 4, 1987 the respondent public utilities commission ("PUC") voted to schedule a public hearing for September 29, 1987 on the matter of acquiring, by eminent domain, certain property interests of Dwayne and Michelene Braithwaite and the complainant.

 

3. Due to a failure of the local newspaper to publish notice of the September 29, 1987 meeting as requested, a decision was made to reschedule the meeting so that notice could be provided 10 days in advance, in accordance with requirements of the Wallingford town charter.

 

4. On or about September 22, 1987 counsel for the respondent PUC prepared a notice of an October 6, 1987 meeting of the PUC for the purpose of discussion and action on the possible condemnation of the Braithwaite property only.

 

Docket #FIC 87-308 Page Two

 

5. Members of the respondent PUC met on September 23, 1987 and voted to accept the notice of meeting referred to at paragraph 4, above, thereby scheduling an October 6, 1987 meeting on the Braithwaite property only.

 

6. On October 6, 1987 the respondent held a public hearing on the matter of acquiring the Braithwaites' property interests. Property interests of the complainant were not discussed.

 

7. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on October 22, 1987 the complainant alleged that notice of the September 23, 1987 meeting of the respondent PUC did not state that the respondent PUC would decide to condemn one property instead of two and that such omission violated the Freedom of Information Act. The complainant further alleged that at the October 6, 1987 meeting, held as a public hearing, discussions were improperly allowed to stray beyond the announced purpose of the meeting.

 

8. It is found that prior to September 22, 1987 counsel to the respondent PUC advised the respondent chairman that it would not be necessary to condemn both the Braithwaite and the Gough properties, and prepared the notice of meeting referred to at paragraph 4, above.

 

9. It is further found that the September 23, 1987 gathering of the respondent PUC constituted communication limited to notice of a meeting of the respondent PUC or the agenda thereof and was not a meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.

 

10. It is concluded that the respondent PUC was not required to conform the conduct of the September 23, 1987 gathering to the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and that the conduct of such gathering, therefore, did not violate any provision of the Act.

 

11. The complainant did not allege any violation of the Freedom of Information Act with respect to the notice of the October 6, 1987 meeting.

 

12. It is found that comments from the public at the October 6, 1987 meeting of the respondent PUC ranged beyond the announced purpose of such meeting.

 

13. It is found, however, that allowing public comments on matters other than the proposed condemnation of the Braithwaite property did not constitute consideration of or action upon

 

Docket #FIC 87-308 Page Three

 

business not included in the notice of meeting within the meaning of 1-21(a), G.S. and did not violate any provision of such statute.

 

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

 

1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 10, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission