FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Ann M. Caggiano,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 87-390

 

Town of Wilton Board of Selectmen and Planning and Zoning Commission,

 

Respondents April 27, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 11, 1988, 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. On December 21, 1987, the respondent board held a regular meeting at which it convened in executive session.

 

3. By letter dated December 22, 1987 and filed with the Commission on December 28, 1987, the complainant alleged the respondent board impermissibly convened in executive session at its December 21, 1987 regular meeting.

 

4. Specifically, the complainant alleged:

 

a. The respondent board impermissibly convened in executive session to discuss a proposed lease agreement between the Town of Wilton and Metro-Mobile CTS of Fairfield County, Inc. (hereinafter "Metro-Mobile") concerning the location of a telecommunications tower in the Town of Wilton.

 

b. The lease agreement subsequently approved by the respondent board is invalid because it was the subject of an illegal executive session.

 

5. By letter dated February 2, 1988, the complainant requested the Commission to declare the lease agreement null and void.

 

Docket #FIC 87-390 Page 2

 

6. The respondents claim the respondent board permissibly convened in executive session under 1-18a(e)(2), 1-18a(e)(4) and 1-18a(e)(5), G.S., to discuss:

 

a. Strategy and negotiations with respect to a pending claim before the Connecticut Siting Council to which the Town of Wilton is a party.

 

b. The terms of a proposed lease agreement currently being negotiated between the Town of Wilton and Metro-Mobile concerning the location of a telecommunications tower on town property.

 

c. The contents of a record privileged by the attorney-client relationship.

 

7. It is found that at the time of the respondent board's December 21, 1987 meeting, Metro-Mobile had applied to the Connecticut Siting Council for a "certificate of environmental compatibility and public need" concerning the location of a telecommunications tower in the Town of Wilton.

 

8. It also is found the respondent board was a party to the proceeding pending before the Connecticut Siting Council.

 

9. It is found, however, the respondent board convened in executive session at its December 21, 1987 regular meeting to discuss the terms of a proposed lease agreement with Metro-Mobile concerning the location of a telecommunications tower in the Town of Wilton.

 

10. It also is found the respondent board failed to prove the discussion in executive session constituted strategy and negotiations with respect to a pending claim or litigation within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(2), G.S.

 

11. It therefore is concluded the respondent board did not convene in executive session for a permissible purpose under 1-18a(e)(2), G.S.

 

12. It is found that although the respondent board convened in executive session to discuss a proposed lease agreeement, it failed to prove that publicity of that lease would likely result in an increased price to the town or to the potential lessee within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(4), G.S.

 

13. It therefore is concluded the respondent board did not convene in executive session for a permissible purpose under 1-18a(e)(4), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 87-390 Page 3

 

14. It is found the respondent board employed special counsel to provide advice and assistance concerning the appropriate location of a telecommunications tower in the Town of Wilton.

 

15. It also is found special counsel wrote a letter to the respondent First Selectman, dated December 8, 1987, concerning the proposed lease agreement with Metro-Mobile.

 

16. It further is found the respondent board convened in executive session to discuss the letter described in paragraph 15, above.

 

17. It further is found the letter described in paragraph 15, above, is a communication between the respondent board and its attorney, made in confidence, for the purpose of seeking legal advice and therefore is exempt from public disclosure under 1-19(b)(10), G.S.

 

18. It therefore is concluded the respondent board convened in executive session for a permissible purpose under 1-18a(e)(5), G.S.

 

19. The Commission therefore declines to declare the lease agreement null and void.

 

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 April 27, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission