FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Florence Pawlikowski,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88-319

 

First Selectman, Second Selectman, Zoning Enforcement Officer and Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Lisbon,

 

Respondents January 25, 1989

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 23, 1988, at which time the parties appeared and presented evidence 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. By letter filed August 5, 1988, the complainant alleged that the respondents violated 1-19(a), G.S., by requiring that requests for copies of records concerning property owners abutting the site of a proposed incinerator and ash landfill be approved by the respondent chairman.

 

3. It is found that on July 15, 1988 the respondent first selectman issued a memo requiring that requests for copies be in writing and given to the chairman of the appropriate board for clearance before the copies may be provided.

 

4. It is found that on August 3, 1988, the complainant made an oral and written request to the custodian of the records, the respondent zoning enforcement officer, for records concerning the property owners abutting the site of the proposed incinerator and landfill.

 

5. It is found that, later in the evening of August 3, 1988, the respondent zoning enforcement officer informed the complainant that she must write to the respondent chairman for clearance before she could receive the records.

 

#FIC 88-319 page 2

 

6. It is found that the complainant wrote to the respondent chairman for clearance of her request on August 4, 1988.

 

7. It is found that the respondent chairman does not have regular office hours in the town hall.

 

8. It is found that the complainant needed to review the records to prepare for a hearing scheduled on August 8, 1988.

 

9. It is found that the complainant received the requested copies August 8, 1988.

 

10. The respondents claimed that the chairmans clearance for requests for records was necessary for orderly operation of the public's business.

 

11. It is found that the respondents violated 1-19(a), G.S., because the records were not provided promptly.

 

12. It is further found that the requirement which was imposed upon the complainant, that she must file a request for clearance from the respondent chairman, in addition to filing a written request for the records with the respondent zoning enforcement officer, is an impermissible precondition upon access to the records, which is inconsistent with the rights of access set forth at 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

13. The complainant requested the Commission impose a civil penalty upon the respondent first and second selectmen for their role in delaying access to the requested records.

 

14. It is found, at this time, under the facts of this case, that a civil penalty is inappropriate.

 

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

 

1. The respondents shall henceforth comply with the requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 25, 1989.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission