FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision

 

Karen C. Scala,

 

Complainant,

 

against Docket #FIC 88-435

 

Meriden Zoning Board of Appeals,

 

Respondent September 27, 1989

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 6 and 12, 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 and conclusions of law are reached:

 

1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. At its September 6, 1988, regular meeting, the respondent convened in executive session. The discussion in the executive session caused the respondent to have the city planning director write to the complainant on October 17, 1988, about a violation of condition #2 to the respondent's special exception #2618.

 

3. By letter dated October 26, 1988, and filed with the Commission on October 28, 1988, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that no minutes of the executive session or record of votes were available as of October 24, 1988, and that the respondent failed to comply with the Freedom of Information Act's requirements for convening in executive session.

 

4. It is found that the complainant first learned of the executive session in question after receipt of the planning director's October 17, 1988, letter.

 

5. It is found that the agenda of the respondent's September 6, 1988, meeting contains no mention of the complainant's property or special exception.

 

6. It is found that the respondent failed to prove it voted to take up this item not listed on the agenda.

 

7. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to vote to take up a non-agenda item.

 

Docket #88-435 Page Two

 

8. It is found that minutes describing the public session of the respondent's September 6, 1988, meeting were filed with the city clerk on September 23, 1988.

 

9. It is found that minutes describing the executive session of the September 6, 1988, meeting were filed with the city clerk on November 31, 1988.

 

10. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to file minutes of its entire September 6, 1988, meeting within seven days of the meeting.

 

11. It is found that on October 24, 1988, the city planning office, the respondent's regular place of business, did not have accessible the minutes of the respondent's September 6, 1988, meeting.

 

12. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to maintain a record of the proceedings of its meeting and keep it in an accessible place in its regular place of business.

 

13. It is found that before convening in executive session the respondent publicly announced its purpose as a discussion of the status of pending litigation between the complainant and the respondent.

 

14. It is found that the respondent also took the required vote to convene in executive session.

 

15. It is found that the litigation pending between the parties on September 6, 1988, concerned a different appeal of the complainant to the respondent and did not concern special exception #2618 or its condition #2.

 

16. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S., by discussing in executive session a topic not permitted by 1-18a(e), G.S.

 

The following order of 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 1-18a(e), 1-19(a), and 1-21(a), G.S.

 

2. All members of the respondent shall attend an educational workshop to be held by a Commission staff attorney

 

Docket #88-435 Page Three

 

 

within 60 days of the mailing of the notice of final decision in

this case.

 

3. Although not within the scope of the complaint, the Commission notes that the respondent's practice of calling its public deliberations an "executive meeting" is misleading to the public. The Commission encourages the respondent to change its nomenclature.

 

PURSUANT TO 4-180(c) C.G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE F.O.I.C., OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

 

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

KAREN C. SCALA, c/o Thomas F. Flynn, Esquire, P.O. Box 369,

Wallingford, CT 06492

 

MERIDEN ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS, c/o Lawrence J. Kendzior,

Corporation Counsel, 142 East Main Street, Meriden, CT 06450

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 27, 1989.

 

 

Tina C. Frappier

Acting Clerk of the Commission