FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

J. Peter Fusscas,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88-11

 

State of Connecticut Department of Transportation, Right of Way Division,

 

Respondent May 25, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 25, 1988, 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 dated December 12, 1987, the complainant requested copies of the following records:

 

a. The real estate appraisal of the Zimmerman property located in the Town of Andover.

 

b. The real estate appraisals of other properties located in the towns of Andover and Bolton relating to the proposed Route 6 expressway project, where the property has been acquired or where all proceedings have been completed.

 

3. By letter dated December 22, 1987, the respondent denied the complainant access to the requested records.

 

4. By letter of complaint dated December 31, 1987 and filed with the Commission on January 5, 1988, the complainant alleged the respondent's failure to release the requested records violated the Freedom of Information Act.

 

Docket #FIC 88-11 Page 2

 

5. The respondent claims the requested records are exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(4) and 1-19(b)(7), G.S.

 

6. It is found the respondent began acquiring residential properties in the towns of Andover and Bolton for a proposed Route 6 expressway project around late 1985. The proposed expressway would run from the Town of Bolton to the Town of Willimantic.

 

7. It is found the respondent expects to acquire all of the property for the Route 6 expressway project by July 1, 1988.

 

8. It is found the respondent acquires property for the proposed Route 6 expressway either through a purchase agreement or an eminent domain proceeding.

 

9. It is found appraisals are made on a case by case basis and contain the methods of valuation and the valuations placed on properties.

 

10. It is concluded the requested appraisals described in paragraph 2a and 2b, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

11. It is found the Zimmerman property was condemned in January 1987 and the condemnee appealed to superior court. The respondent and the condemnee reached an out of court settlement in August 1987.

 

12. With respect to the Zimmerman property, it is found that there are no pending claims or litigation to which the respondent is a party.

 

13. It also is found the Zimmerman appraisal is not a record pertaining to strategy or negotiations with respect to pending claims or litigation within the meaning of 1-19(b)(4), G.S.

 

14. It is concluded the Zimmerman appraisal is not exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(4), G.S.

 

15. It also is concluded the appraisals described in paragraph 2b, above, are not exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(4), G.S., for the reasons set forth in paragraphs 12 and 13, above.

 

Docket #FIC 88-11 Page 3

 

16. Section 1-19(b)(7) of the Connecticut General Statutes exempts from disclosure:

 

The contents of real estate appraisals . . . made for or by an agency relative to the acquisition of property . . . until such time as all of the property has been acquired or all proceedings or transactions have been terminated or abandoned, provided that the law of eminent domain shall not be affected by this provision.

 

17. It is found the Zimmerman appraisal constitutes a real estate appraisal made for a public agency relative to the acquisition of property within the meaning of 1-19(b)(7), G.S.

 

18. It also is found that at the time of the complainant's request for the Zimmerman appraisal the respondent had not acquired all of the property for the proposed Route 6 expressway project within the meaning of 1-19(b)(7), G.S.

 

19. It therefore is concluded the Zimmerman appraisal is exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(7), G.S.

 

20. It also is concluded the appraisals described in paragraph 2b, above, are exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(7), G.S., for the reasons set forth in paragraphs 17 and 18, above.

 

21. It further is concluded the respondent did not violate 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to release the appraisals described in parargaphs 2a and 2b, above.

 

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.

 

2. The Commission notes the exemption enumerated in 1-19(b)(7), G.S., does not require the respondent to withhold the requested appraisals, but merely permits it to do so. The respondent, in its discretion, may determine whether or not to release the requested appraisals. It is the Commission's opinion that disclosure of the requested appraisals would serve the public good.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of May 25, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission