FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

William A. Oppenheimer and Kathleen F. Oppenheimer,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 88-47

 

Roy C.A. Bradshaw, James MacBroom, John Hayes, Barbara Obeda and Town of Redding Technical Team,

 

Respondents May 25, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 25, 1988, at which time the complainants 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. On or about October 5, 1987 Victoria and Alan Baturay submitted an application for resubdivision to the Redding Planning Commission concerning a 4.131-acre parcel. Such application (hereinafter "application #392") was accepted for consideration by the planning commission on October 13, 1987.

 

2. In a letter to the planning commission dated November 24, 1987 the complainants raised a number of "concerns and questions" regarding application #392. In such letter the complainants also requested the opportunity to attend all meetings of the respondent Redding Technical Team (hereinafter "RTT") concerning such application.

 

3. On November 24, 1987 the planning commission conducted a public hearing on application #392.

 

4. In a letter to the planning commission dated December 22, 1987 the complainants again raised certain concerns which they felt had not been addressed at the November 24, 1987 public hearing.

 

5. The planning commission held a second public hearing on application #392 on December 22, 1987. At the close of the December 22, 1987 public hearing the chairman of the planning commission asked the moderator of the RTT to respond to the complainants' December 22, 1987 letter.

 

Docket #FIC 88-47 Page Two

 

6. On or about January 21, 1988 the complainants were advised by Redding's land use coordinator that the RTT had discussed the complainants' concerns regarding application #392 at two meetings and that the RTT was preparing a response to such concerns.

 

7. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on February 9, 1988 the complainants alleged that the RTT held meetings to discuss application #392, without notice, in violation of the Freedom of Information Act. The complainants requested that any action on such application other than withdrawal, denial or denial without prejudice be declared null and void and that a civil penalty in the amount of $500 be imposed against the RTT.

 

8. On February 23, 1988 the planning commission voted to approve application #392.

 

9. At hearing the complainants made a request to amend their complaint to include an allegation regarding minutes of certain meetings, which request was denied.

 

10. Also at hearing both parties referenced the Commission's decision in FIC #87-302, Nancy Burton v. Redding Technical Team, et. al. In that case, the Commission determined that the RTT's purely technical reviews of applications constitute administrative or staff meetings of a single-member public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S., but that when acting in concert to render an opinion concerning the granting or denial of an application on its merits, it is a multi-member public agency whose meetings must be conducted in compliance with the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

11. It is found that by letter dated February 9, 1988 the moderator of the RTT notified the complainants that the RTT had discussed their concerns at meetings held on December 31, 1987 and January 11, 1988. In such letter the RTT addressed the concerns raised in the complainants' December 22, 1987 letter, paragraph by paragraph.

 

12. It is found that the December 31, 1987 meeting of the RTT was an unnoticed meeting within the meaning of 1-21i(b), G.S. and that the complainants' complaint was filed within 30 days of their receipt of notice in fact that such meeting was held.

 

13. It is found that at its December 31, 1987 and January 11, 1988 gatherings the RTT discussed the objections raised by the complainants to application #392. A few of the objections and responses are paraphrased below:

 

Docket #FIC 88-47 Page Three

 

Q: The applicants have failed to provide cost estimates as required by (Redding) Subdivision Regulations 5.4(o).

 

A: Planning Commission policy requires cost estimates only in those instances where there will be community facilities and a bond will be needed.

 

Q: The applicants' maps do not show footing drains as required by State Building Codes.

 

A: The matter of footing drains is the responsibility of the Health Department and will be reviewed before a septic installation permit is issued.

 

Q: When will sight line calculations be done?

 

A: Sight lines have been shown in the updated material and meet state and local requirements.

 

Q: The applicants have not clearly indicated the extent of stone wall removal. Why?

 

A: Required details have been supplied.

 

14. It is found that the purpose of the RTT's December 31, 1987 and January 11, 1988 gatherings was to review the complainants' concerns regarding application #392 and respond to such concerns, based upon their familiarity with the application and their technical expertise.

 

15. It is further found that the purpose of the December 31, 1987 and January 11, 1988 gatherings was not to formulate a position regarding action to be taken by the planning commission, nor to reach a conclusion on the issue of whether the application should be granted or denied.

 

16. It is further found that the task of responding to the complainants' concerns is one properly performed by staff members, and that the December 31, 1987 and January 11, 1988 gatherings constituted administrative or staff meetings of a single-member public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.

 

17. It is concluded that the RTT's failure to provide public notice of such gatherings did not violate 1-21(a), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 88-47 Page Four

 

18. It is found that the RTT held at least one other gathering to discuss application #392, as evidenced by a November 3, 1987 letter from the moderator of the RTT to the chairman of the conservation commission. Such meeting was not specifically made a subject of the complaint and the Commission, therefore, declines to issue further findings or an order concerning such gathering.

 

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 special meeting of May 25, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission