FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 95-11
David Pattee, Chairman, Redding Conservation
Commission; and Redding Conservation Commission,
Respondents December 13, 1995
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 9 and October 11, 1995, at which times the complainant and the respondents appeared 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. It is found that on December 17, 1994 the respondents assembled at 584 Redding Road ("Stergue property"), and at 10:30 a.m. convened a site inspection meeting ("site meeting"), which had been properly noticed as a public meeting.
3. By letter of complaint dated January 16, 1995, and filed with this Commission on January 17, 1995, the complainant alleged: (a) that the respondents failed to conduct an orderly site meeting in violation of 1-21h, G.S., and (b) that the respondents impermissibly conditioned future site walks of the Stergue property on access from the complainant's adjoining property. The complainant requested civil penalties be levied against the respondents.
4. It is found that the complainant and his attorney, Nancy Burton, went to the Stergue property to attend the site meeting.
Docket #FIC 95-11 Page 2
5. It is found that immediately upon the arrival of the complainant and his counsel an incident ensued involving them, Stergue, and the tenants of his property, the Harkers.
6. It is found that Stergue and the Harkers sought to prevent the complainant and his counsel from coming on the Stergue property to attend the site meeting.
7. It is found that the respondents were present during the entire incident and did not intervene.
8. The complainant and his counsel allege that they were assaulted during the incident by Stergue and the Harkers.
9. It is found that the police were called to the Stergue property on the morning of the site meeting and arrived at approximately 10:40 a.m. The issue of whether or not the complainant and his counsel were assaulted during the incident is a police question, and not properly before this Commission.
10. Section 1-21h, G.S., concerning the conduct of public meetings states, in pertinent part, that:
[i]n the event that any meeting of a public agency is interrupted by any person or group of persons so as to render the orderly conduct of such meeting unfeasible and order cannot be restored by the removal of individuals who are wilfully interrupting the meeting, the members of the agency conducting the meeting may order the meeting room cleared and continue in session. . . .
11. It is found that the respondents canceled the site meeting at approximately 10:35 a.m. because of the ruckus.
12. The complainant alleges that pursuant to 1-21h, G.S., the respondents should have intervened to restore order to the site meeting because their failure to do so resulted in his inability to attend the meeting with his counsel.
13. It is found that upon the facts of this case the respondents prudently terminated the site meeting since removal of the Harkers and/or Stergue, the tenants and landowner of the Stergue property, would have undoubtedly escalated tensions and proven difficult.
Docket #FIC 95-11 Page 3
14. It is therefore concluded that the provisions of 1-21, G.S., were not violated by the respondents during the site meeting.
15. With respect to the complainant's allegation described in paragraph 2(b) of the findings, above, it is found that since the site meeting requested by the complainant's attorney was abruptly canceled, the respondents suggested that another site meeting be scheduled with access to the Stergue property from the complainant's adjacent property.
16. The Commission, however, lacks jurisdiction to make a determination about the propriety or legality of the respondents' request that a future site walk of the Stergue property occur by way of the complainant's adjoining property.
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.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of December 13, 1995.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 95-11 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:
c/o Nancy Burton, Esq.
147 Cross Highway
Redding Ridge, CT 06876
David Pattee, Chairman, Redding Conservation Commission and
Redding Conservation Commission
c/o Michael N. LaVelle, Esq.
Pullman & Comley
850 Main Street
P.O. Box 7006
Bridgeport, CT 06601-7006
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission