FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

BCD Associates,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 87-335

 

Wethersfield Planning and Zoning Commission,

 

Respondent February 24, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 22, 1987, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on November 17, 1987 the complainant alleged the following:

 

a. That the votes taken at the respondent's October 20, 1987 and October 22, 1987 meetings were not reduced to writing and made available for public inspection within 48 hours as required by 1-21(a), G.S.;

 

b. The respondent failed to include the vote of each member in the minutes of its October 20, 1987 and October 22, 1987 meetings;

 

c. The minutes of the October 20, 1987 and October 22, 1987 meetings were not available for public inspection within seven days of the meetings;

 

d. The agenda for the October 20, 1987 meeting was not posted 24 hours prior to the meeting;

 

e. The notice of special meeting for the October 22, 1987 meeting was not posted in the office of the town clerk;

 

Docket #FIC 87-335 Page 2

 

f. The minutes of the October 22, 1987 special meeting were not filed 72 hours following the meeting; and

 

g. The tape recordings of the October 20, 1987 and October 22, 1987 meetings were not kept and maintained in the office of the town clerk, but instead were "removed from town hall and kept at the home of the commission's clerk."

 

3. With respect to paragraph 2a, above, it is found that there was a vote taken at the respondent's October 20, 1987 meeting concerning the complainant's application. However, because there were not enough members of the respondent present, the motion failed to carry and the action was withdrawn.

 

4. With respect to the respondent's special meeting of October 22, 1987, it is found that a vote was taken concerning the complainant's applications for a zone change, a special permit and site approval and that a record of votes was filed in the respondent's office the following morning in accordance with 1-21(a), G.S.

 

5. With respect to paragraph 2b, above, it is found that the minutes of the respondent's October 20, 1987 meeting do reflect that a vote was taken concerning the complainant's application and that such vote was later withdrawn.

 

6. It is also found that the minutes of the respondent's October 22, 1987 special meeting include the vote of each member on the complainant's application.

 

7. With respect to paragraph 2c, above, it is found that the minutes of the respondent's October 20, 1987 meeting were not available for public inspection until the second week in December, 1987 in violation of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

8. It is found, however, that the minutes of the respondent's October 22, 1987 special meeting were made available for public inspection on or about October 26, 1987.

 

9. With respect to paragraphs 2d and 2e, above, it is found that the agenda for the October 20, 1987 meeting and the notice of special meeting for the October 22, 1987 special meeting was filed five days before in the respondent's office and posted 24 hours prior to the time of each meeting on a bulletin board entitled "notice of public meetings" directly across the hall from the town clerk's office.

 

Docket #FIC 87-335 Page 3

 

10. The Commission notes that pursuant to 1-21(a), G.S., notices of special meetings have to be "posted" not less than 24 hours prior to the time of the special meeting in the office of the clerk for such subdivision, and that the agendas for regular meetings must be "filed" 24 hours before the meetings to which they refer.

 

11. With respect to paragraph 2f, above, it is found that the minutes of a special meeting do not have to be filed within 72 hours of the meeting as alleged by the complainant. Instead, such minutes must be available for public inspection within seven days as required by 1-21(a), G.S.

 

12. With respect to paragraph 2g, above, it is found that the minutes of the respondent's meetings are prepared by Phyllis McKelvie, its secretary, who works out of her home. Ms. McKelvie uses her stenographic notes in addition to the tape recordings to transcribe the minutes for each meeting.

 

13. It is found that after the minutes have been prepared, Ms. McKelvie returns the tape recordings to the respondent's office.

 

14. It is found that there was no evidence presented that Ms. McKelvie tape records the meetings at her own initiative or solely as an aid in the preparation of the minutes.

 

15. It is found, therefore, that the tape recordings in question are prepared, owned, received or retained by the respondent within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

16. It is concluded that the tape recordings are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

17. It is also found, however, that the removal of the tape recordings by Ms. McKelvie does not violate 1-19(a), G.S., and is required by the very nature of her duties as the respondent's secretary inasmuch as she has no office in the town hall and must prepare the minutes at her home.

 

Docket #FIC 87-335 Page 4

 

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.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 24, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission