FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Alice M. Lipowicz and Post Telegram Newspapers,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 89-41

 

Director of Policy and Development, Office of Policy and Development of the City of Bridgeport,

 

Respondent July 12, 1989

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 5, 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated January 5, 1989, the complainant Lipowicz requested that the respondent director provide her with a copy of an environmental impact study (EIS, hereinafter) concerning a proposed development project called Harborpointe.

 

3. By letter dated January 11, 1989, the respondent director denied the complainant access to the requested record claiming it was not complete.

 

4. It is found that the EIS was developed for the city of Bridgeport and for Sterling Group Limited (Sterling, hereinafter), pursuant to specifications set forth in the contract between AKRF, Inc. (AKRF, herinafter), the city of Bridgeport, and Sterling, dated December 19, 1984.

 

5. It is found that pursuant to the December 19, 1984 contract AKRF agreed to prepare and submit to the city of Bridgeport three documents: (1) a preliminary draft EIS (2) revisions to the preliminary draft EIS; and (3) a final draft of preliminary EIS.

 

FIC#89-41 Page 2

 

6. It is found that pursuant to the December 19, 1984 contract dated the documents prepared by AKRF included discussion of

 

(a) Land use and community resources

(b) Historical and cultural resources

(c) Economic conditions

(d) Traffic and transportation

(e) Air Quality

(f) Noise

(g) Heliport analysis

(h) Water resources/ecology

(i) Infrastructure/site preparation

(j) Energy and conservation/solid wastes.

 

7. It is found that prior to the hearing in this matter the respondent director informed the complainant that the EIS was complete, and permitted her to see it for a short time.

 

8. It is found that members of AKRF made a presentation of the content of the EIS to Sterling, the respondent director, the mayor of Bridgeport and the staff of the respondent director.

 

9. It is found further that the content of the EIS has been discussed by the respondent director with the mayor, the common council, redevelopment agency, and the planning director in executive session.

 

10. It is found that on March 15, 1989, the redevelopment agency of Bridgeport adopted a motion to release monies to AKRF in the amount of $5,103.90 because the EIS was completed, and at the same time it approved amendment of its contract with AKRF to include an Environmental Assessment Supplement for the Harborpointe Project.

 

11. It is found that the additional work which the city agreed to have performed by AKRF is an analysis of financing for the project, a matter not specifically required by the December 19, 1984 contract.

 

12. At hearing the respondents moved to dismiss the complaint because the complainant's requested a completed EIS and they claim that no such completed EIS exists.

 

FIC#89-41 Page 3

 

13. It is found that the respondent's designation of the EIS as a preliminary draft or note does not in and of itself establish that the EIS is incomplete, or that it is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(1), G.S.

 

14. It is concluded, for the reason stated at paragraph 13, that the motion to dismiss should be denied.

 

15. The respondents claim the requested record is exempt as a preliminary draft or note pursuant to 1-19(b)(1), G.S., and that, pursuant to 1-19(b)(7), G.S., it is exempt as a feasibility evaluation made for the city relative to the acquisition of property.

 

16. It is found that the respondents failed to prove by credible evidence that the requested record in its present form was a preliminary draft or note, because the basis for its claim consisted in the testimony of the respondent director that Sterling did not want the EIS disclosed, and that AKRF had not completed the financial analysis which Sterling and the City of Bridgeport now deemed to be a component of the EIS.

 

18. It is found further that the requested record is subject to disclosure pursuant to 1-19(c)(1), G.S., because it is a report comprising part of the process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated.

 

19. It is found that the respondents failed to prove by credible evidence that the EIS was exempt under 1-19(b)(7), G.S.:

 

(a) the testimony of the respondent director was contradictory because he maintained both that the financial analysis had not been done, and claimed simultaneously that the EIS was a feasibility study, and

 

(b) in attempting to establish that it was a feasibility study the respondent director made no specific reference to portions of the EIS which dealt with the feasibility of particular contracts or acquisitions of property.

 

21. It is found that the EIS does explore the relationships between the proposed development and various environmental factors such as those which the parties to the contract with AKRF selected, which are listed at paragraph 6, herein; but discussion of such relationships is not sufficient to make the EIS exempt pursuant to 1-19(b)(7), G.S.

 

FIC#89-41 Page 4

 

22. It is found that the complainant Lipowicz was credible when she testified that she had seen the EIS and that it was not a feasibility study.

 

23. It is concluded that the respondents failed to prove that the report was exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(1) and (7), G.S.

 

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

 

1. The respondents shall provide the complainant with the requested EIS forthwith.

 

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:

ALICE M. LIPOWICZ AND POST TELEGRAM NEWSPAPERS, 410 State Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604

 

DIRECTOR OF POLICY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE CITY OF BRIDGEPORT, c/o Ann M. Siczewicz, Esquire, Schatz & Schatz, Ribicoff & Kotkin, 90 State House Square, Hartford, CT 06103

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 12, 1989.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission