In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision


Clifford O. Devine,




against Docket #FIC 88-504


First Selectman, Minority Selectman and Board of Selectmen of Salem,


Respondents May 10, 1989


The above-captioned case was scheduled for hearing February 14, 1989, 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 complaint filed January 3, 1989, the complainant alleged that the respondent Board of Selectmen held an illegal meeting at 9 A.M., December 23, 1988.


3. The complainant maintained that the meeting was illegal because the respondents failed to indicate on its notice of special meeting that they would discuss the general concept of development of Center Street as its first item of business.


4. It is found that the notice of the meeting indicated that the meeting was to begin at 9 A.M.


5. It is found that from 9 A.M. to 9:15 A.M., approximately, two of the three selectmen waited for the third selectman.


6. The first item on the agenda was the bond amount for Center Street.


7. While the selectmen and the members of the public who had assembled waited, the respondent first selectman carried on a conversation with a developer concerning the general concept of development and traffic patterns on Center Street.


Docket #FIC 88-504 Page 2


8. It is found that the other selectman did not participate in the discussion.


9. It is found that none of the audience participated in the discussion.


10. It is found that the complainant, who was not in the meeting room, overheard the conversation of the developer and the first selectman while he was outside the meeting room standing by the water cooler.


11. It is found that the meeting room remained open to the public and that at no time was the complainant excluded.


12. It is found that there was no evidence produced at hearing to show that the discussion between the respondent first selectman and the developer concerned matters over which the respondent selectman had supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.

13. It is concluded that the conversation between the first selectman and the developer was not a meeting of the respondent board of selectmen within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.


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.


2. The Commission urges the respondents to be careful, under circumstances similar to the one described herein, to limit conversation to matters which are not subject to their supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 10, 1989.



Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission