FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Kerry Gross and Philip Cosker,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 91-96

 

Bozrah Planning and Zoning Commission,

 

Respondent October 9, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 24, 1991, at which time the complainants 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. By letter of complaint filed April 19, 1991 and postmarked April 18, 1991, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that their requests for certain records had been denied.

 

3. It is found that the complainants by letter dated March 11, 1991 and received by the respondent March 13, 1991 requested copies of the following records:

 

a. the minutes of the respondent's December, 1990, and January and February, 1991 meetings;

 

b. any complaints received by the respondent or the zoning enforcement officer regarding the complainants' property;

 

c. minutes of any of the respondent's meetings from 1987 to the present at which there was discussion or action concerning property owned by Martin and Betty Rogan; and

 

d. any correspondence or legal action from 1987 to the present by the respondent or the zoning enforcement officer concerning the Rogan property.

 

4. It is found that the complainants repeated their request on April 10, 1991, and also asked for an explanation of a cease and desist order issued against their business.

 

Docket #FIC 91-96 Page 2

 

5. It is concluded that the records described in paragraph 3, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

6. It is found that the respondent provided copies of the records described in paragraphs 3.a and 3.b, above, to the complainants sometime around May 1, 1991.

 

7. It is concluded that the respondent failed to provide the records described in paragraphs 3.a and 3.b, above, promptly, within the meaning of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

8. It is found that the respondent would need to do research to find the records described in paragraphs 3.c and 3.d, above.

 

9. It is concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the records described in paragraphs 3.c and 3.d, above.

 

10. The complainants maintain that they were never given a satisfactory explanation as to why a cease and desist order was issued against their business.

 

11. Although it is found that the complainants' request for an explanation was not a request for public records, it is also found that the respondent's counsel indicated in a letter dated April 26, 1991 to the complainants the sections of the Bozrah zoning regulations violated by the complainants.

 

12. The complainants maintain that they were treated unfairly, because they did not receive requested records and information before the respondent made decisions about their property.

 

13. The respondent in turn maintains that it acted fairly, and that its records were open to the complainants' inspection.

 

14. It is found that the complainants neglected to visit the respondent's offices to search for the requested records, and absented themselves from the respondent's meetings when the records were not forthcoming.

 

15. It is also found that the respondent was slow to provide any records to the complainants, and delayed providing easily obtainable records while it located less easily obtainable records.

 

16. It is concluded that both parties acted in ways that exacerbated their underlying zoning dispute.

 

Docket #FIC 91-96 Page 3

 

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

 

1. With respect to the allegations concerning the records described in paragraphs 3.c and 3.d of the findings, above, the complaint is dismissed.

 

2. Henceforth the respondent shall act in strict compliance with the promptness requirement contained in 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

3. The Commission urges both parties henceforth to act cooperatively concerning public records; the complainants, by undertaking such research as is necessary to discover records, and the respondents, by acting promptly and directing the complainants' efforts.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 9, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 91-96 Page 4

 

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:

Kerry Gross

Philip Cosker

P.O. Box 81

Bozrah, CT 06334

 

Bozrah Planning and Zoning Commission

c/o Seymour Adelman, Chairman

Bozrah Town Hall

Bozrah, CT 06334

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission