In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Paul C. Halas, Jr.,




against Docket #FIC 88-48


Planning Commission of the Town of Redding,


Respondent May 25, 1988


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 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 of complaint filed with the Commission on February 10, 1988, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated 1-21, G.S., at its January 12, 1988 meeting by failing to take an affirmative 2/3 vote to consider and act upon a matter that was not on the agenda for that meeting.


3. The complainant also alleged that the minutes of the meeting in question were not filed within 7 days as required by 1-21(a), G.S.


4. The complainant further alleged that the respondent failed to comply with the notice provisions set forth at 8-8, G.S.


5. It is concluded that the Commission lacks jurisdiction over 8-8, G.S., and will therefore not treat it herein.


6. The complainant requested that the January 12, 1988 meeting be declared null and void, that a civil penalty be imposed against the respondent and that he be awarded costs for prosecuting this appeal.


Docket #88-48 Page 2


7. It is found that the agenda for the respondent's January 12, 1988 meeting included the following items of business:


a. Approval of the minutes of the October 27, 1987 and November 10, 1987 meetings;

b. Policy; and

c. Administrative matters.


8. It is further found that under the item of business entitled "administrative matters," the respondent voted to approve the Sanfordtown Meadow subdivision application.


9. It is found that with respect to the Sanfordtown Meadow application, the agenda for the January 12, 1988 meeting did not adequately inform the public that the respondent would consider and act upon the application.


10. It is also found that the respondent failed to take an affirmative 2/3 vote of its members present and voting, so that it could consider and act upon the Sanfortown Meadow application under new business.


11. It is therefore concluded that with respect to that item of business, the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S.


12. It is found, however, that at a properly noticed meeting on February 23, 1988, the respondent voted to vacate the action that had been taken at the January 12, 1988 meeting concerning the Sanfordtown Meadow application. This action was taken by the respondent because it felt the notice for the January 12, 1988 meeting was not sufficiently specific with respect to that item of business.


13. With respect to the minutes of the respondent's January 12, 1988 meeting, it is found that they were not placed on file and made available for public inspection until March 23, 1988, in violation of 1-21(a), G.S.


14. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S., when it failed to timely file and make available the minutes of its January 12, 1988 meeting, as required by 1-21(a), G.S.


Docket #FIC 88-48 Page 3


15. The Commission notes that under the facts of this case, it would serve no useful purpose to declare the January 12, 1988 meeting null and void, and therefore declines to do so.


16. The Commission also declines to impose a civil penalty against the respondent as requested by the complainant.


17. With respect to the complainant's request for costs, it is found that there is no provision under the Freedom of Information Act which allows for such reimbursement. The complainant's request is therefore denied.


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


1. Henceforth the respondent shall act in strict compliance with 1-21(a), G.S.


2. The respondent shall, within thirty days of the Final Decision in this matter, schedule and attend a workshop to be conducted by one of the Commission's staff attorneys, on the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. This workshop shall be attended by each member of the respondent, and shall be open to other town officials, as well as members of the public.


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