In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


George I. Chaput,




against Docket #FIC 88-86


City of Norwich Planning Commission,


Respondent June 22, 1988


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 2, 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. The respondent held a meeting on January 20, 1988.


3. On March 7, 1988 and March 9, 1988 the complainant made requests of the respondent for access to inspect or copy the minutes of the respondent's January 20, 1988 meeting.


4. In response to his requests the complainant was told that the minutes of the respondent's January 20, 1988 meeting had not yet been placed on file. The complainant was offered the opportunity to review a tape recording of the meeting, which he declined.


5. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on March 14, 1988 the complainant appealed the respondent's failure to make available in a timely manner the minutes of its January 20, 1988 meeting.


6. At hearing, the complainant requested that the Commission declare null and void the actions taken by the respondent at its January 20, 1988 meeting.


7. The complainant received a copy of the minutes in question on April 22, 1988.


Docket #FIC 88-86 Page Two


8. The respondent concedes that it violated 1-21(a), G.S. when it failed to produce the minutes of its January 20, 1988 meeting in a timely manner, but claims in its defense that as a result of the complainant's complaint it engaged the services of a temporary employee who has eliminated the backlog of minutes.


9. The Commission notes that a delay of approximately 3 months in the preparation of minutes is extreme. Such delay, however, did not affect the integrity of the January 20, 1988 meeting and the Commission does not deem it necessary or appropriate to declare null and void the actions taken at such meeting.


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


1. The respondent henceforth shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S. regarding the timely preparation and availability of minutes of meetings of public agencies.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of June 22, 1988.


Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission