FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Phyllis A. Guerrier,
against Docket #FIC 90-472
Thompson Zoning Enforcement Officer and Chairman, Thompson Planning and Zoning Commission,
Respondent July 24, 1991
The above-captioned matter was consolidated with #FIC 90-469 Phyllis Guerrier v. Thompson, Planning and Zoning Commission because of the similarity of their subject matter. Both cases were heard as contested cases on March 21, 1991, at which time the complainants and the respondents 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. By letter of complaint dated December 5, 1990, and received by this Commission December 6, 1990, the complainant alleged that she had been denied access to records of the respondent in violation of 1-19a(a), G.S.
3. The respondent claimed that the complainant had been provided with an opportunity to inspect the requested records, but that she had failed to appear, to do so; the respondent claimed further that because it had only a part-time staff it could not comply easily with the complainant's request.
4. It is found that on November 26, 1990 the complainant called the zoning enforcement officer to schedule a review of records relative to special permits issued to Van Thomas, dba Thomas Realty, Inc. and Kevin Beno, dba American Storage. She asked that she be permitted to inspect the permits on November 28, 1990 at 11:00 a.m.
Docket #FIC 90-472 Page two
5. It is found on November 28, 1990 the complainant called the same office and was told that she could not review the records until she cleared the request with the respondent chairman.
6. It is found that the complainant went to the place of business of the respondent chairman, the Thomas Garden Center, and requested that he call Ms. Darling, who works for the planning and zoning commission, at the Town Hall to authorize review by the complainant of the permits.
7. It is found that the respondent chairman refused to do so, stating that the complainant needed to write a letter asking for the information she desired.
8. It is found that the complainant refused to write a letter and asked that he make the appointment and let her know when the appointment was scheduled.
9. It is found that the repondent chairman did make an appointment for the complainant for December 3, 1990, but that no one informed the complainant when the appointment was.
10. It is found that on December 5, 1990 when the complainant called the respondent chairman to determine when the review was scheduled, she was told that the appointment had been scheduled for Monday, December 3.
11. It is found that the complainant then asked the respondent chairman to call town hall to authorize her to inspect the permits, but he refused.
12. It is found that the respondent chairman offered to put the complainant on the agenda for the meeting of the respondent which was being held on December 17, 1990, but the complainant declined.
13. It is found that the respondent chairman told the complainant that various personnel at the town hall, Ms. Darling, the Town Clerk and Ms. Vigant, were not interested in handling zoning records.
14. It is found that 1-19(a), G.S., provides that every person shall have the right to inspect the records of a public agency promptly during regular office or business hours.
15. It is concluded that the respondent chairman and zoning enforcement officer did not permit the complainant to inspect the records she was seeking promptly during any regular
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office or business hours.
16. It is concluded further that the respondent chairman violated 1-19(a), G.S., by requiring the complainant to put her request for to inspect records in writing.
17. It is further found that 1-19(a), G.S., provides that
each such agency shall keep and maintain all public records in its custody at its regular office or place of business in an accessible place and, if there is no such office or place of business, the public records pertaining to such agency shall be kept in the office of the clerk of the political subdivision in which such public agency is located. . . .
18. It is found that the respondent agency does not have regular office hours in which the public may have access to its records.
19. It is therefore concluded that the respondent agency has failed to comply with the requirements of 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to keep its records in its regular office in an accessible place during regular business hours or in the office of the town clerk as required by 1-19(a), G.S.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. Henceforth the respondents shall comply with 1-19(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 24, 1991.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 90-472 Page four
PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
RFD #3, Box 213
Southbridge, MA 01550
Thompson Planning and Zoning Commission
c/o William H. St. Onge, Esq.
Boland, St. Onge & Brouillard
211 Kennedy Drive
P.O. Box 550
Putnam, CT 06260
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission