FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Connecticut Conservation Association,
against Docket #FIC 91-238
Bridgeport Zoning Commission,
Respondent May 27, 1992
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 30, 1991, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. At the hearing on this matter the Price Company and the Carpenter Technology Corporation requested and were granted intervenor status.
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. It is found that on May 28, 1991 the respondent held a public hearing concerning two applications (hereinafter "applications") filed with it by the intervenor Price Company, a private corporation, relative to a parcel of land purchased by Price from the intervenor Carpenter Technology Corporation.
3. It is found that on the day of, but prior to the commencement of the May 28, 1991 public hearing, the chairman of the respondent and another member of the respondent visited and inspected the site that was the subject of the applications.
4. It is found that the May 28, 1991 public hearing concerning the applications was continued to June 5, 1991.
Docket #FIC 91-238 Page 2
5. It is found that following the June 5, 1991 public hearing, the respondent convened a meeting, during which it approved the applications.
6. It is found that on August 28, 1991, in response to a request by the complainant, the clerk of the respondent indicated that there were no minutes on file for the May 28, 1991 site inspection nor were there minutes for the June 5, 1991 meeting. The clerk informed the complainant that there was a "Decision" document on file that pertained to the June 5, 1991 meeting and that it was available for inspection.
7. By letter dated August 29, 1991 and filed September 3, 1991, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent failed to provide written minutes of its May 28 and June 5, 1991 meetings in violation of the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act.
8. With regard to the May 28, 1991 site inspection, the respondent maintains that no minutes exist because the site inspection did not constitute a meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.
9. Section 1-18a(b), G.S., provides in part that a meeting for purposes of the FOI Act includes "any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, [or] any convening or assembly of a quorum of a multimember public agency...to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power."
10. It is found that the respondent is comprised of five members.
11. It is found that the two members of the respondent who inspected the site relative to the applications do not constitute a quorum of the respondent.
12. It is found that the two members of the respondent who inspected the site relative to the applications were not designated as, and did not constitute, a subcommittee of the respondent.
13. It is therefore concluded that the site inspection did not constitute a meeting of the respondent within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S., and consequently the respondent did not violate the FOI Act by failing to file minutes of the May 28, 1991 site inspection.
Docket #FIC 91-238 Page 3
14. With regard to the respondent's June 5, 1991 meeting, it is found that there are no formal minutes of the meeting during which the respondent approved the applications.
15. It is found however, that there is a document entitled "Decision" that sets forth the respondent's decision concerning the applications, the conditions for the respondent's approval, the reasons the members in favor so voted, the reasons the members not in favor so voted, the names of the members who voted in favor and the names of those who voted against approval of the applications.
16. It is found that it is the practice of the respondent to prepare "Decisions" like the document described in paragraph 15, above, following its meetings at which zoning applications are voted on, and that "Decisions" serve as the minutes of the meetings.
17. Section 1-19(a), G.S., requires that "each such [public] agency shall make, keep and maintain a record of the proceedings of its meetings."
18. Section 1-21, G.S., provides in relevant part:
"...the votes of each member of any public agency
upon any issue before such public agency shall be
reduced to writing and shall be made available for
public inspection within forty-eight hours and shall
also be recorded in the minutes of the session at
which taken, which minutes shall be available for
public inspection within seven days of the session
to which they refer."
19. It is found that the document described in paragraph 15, above, could reasonably satisfy the minutes requirements set forth in 1-19(a) and 1-21, G.S.
20. It is found however, that the respondent did not approve the "Decision" as its minutes or otherwise designate them as such so as to apprise the public that the "Decision" is intended to serve as the minutes for the June 5, 1991 meeting.
21. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated the provisions of 1-19(a) and 1-21, G.S.
22. The complainant further maintains that even if the "Decision" satisfies the minutes requirements of the FOI Act,
Docket #FIC 91-238 Page 4
the "Decision" was not made available for public inspection
within seven days of the June 5, 1991 meeting as required by 1-21, G.S.
23. It is found that the complainant failed to prove its claim in paragraph 22, above.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-19(a) and 1-21, G.S.
2. The respondent shall formally identify documents that it designates as fulfilling the minutes requirements of the FOI Act, including documents it has deemed as such in the past, to avoid confusion and to apprise the public of its intent.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 27, 1992.
Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 91-238 Page 5
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:
Edwin C. Pearson, Esq.
Chambliss & Pearson
158 Danbury Road
Ridgefield, CT 06877
John H. Barton, Esq.
Office of the City Attorney
202 State Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Kevin C. Murphy, Esq.
Pullman & Comley
850 Main Street
P.O. Box 7006
Bridgeport, CT 06601-7006
David P. Lasnick, Esq.
Willinger, Shepro, Tower & Bulli
1000 Lafayette Boulevard
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Clerk of the Commission