FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-523
July 23, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Veronica Kasperzak, Complainant
against
Lee Hall, Chairman, Zoning Commission, Town of Somers; Deborah Numrych, Patricia Jones, Robert Landry, and Henry Singer, as members of the Zoning Commission, Town of Somers; and Zoning Commission, Town of Somers, Respondents

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 5, 1997, at which time the complainant 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of Section 1-18a(a), G.S.

2. By letter dated October 31, 1996, and filed with the Commission on November 4, 1996, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by taking actions on October 7, 1996 that constituted "a secret or unnoticed meeting", to wit: the respondents added an item to the agenda which had not been on the agenda filed at the respondent commission’s regular office before the meeting.

3. Section 1-21(a), G.S., provides in pertinent part:

Upon the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of a public agency present and voting, any subsequent business not included in such filed agendas may be considered and acted upon at such meetings. [Emphasis added.]

4. The complainant contends that the authorization contained in Section 1-21(a), G.S., set forth at paragraph 3, above, is limited by a distinction between "subsequent business" and "new business". The complainant maintains that, in the event that certain business was not on the agenda filed before such meeting, only business which had been on a previous agenda of the public agency could be added to the agenda by a two-thirds vote during the meeting. Under this interpretation, the legal result would be that no "new business", which had not been on a previous agenda of a public agency, could be added to the agenda of that agency by two-thirds vote at a meeting.

5. The Commission takes administrative notice of its final decision in Docket #FIC 1996-216, in which the complainant herein presented the identical legal issue, described at paragraph 4, above, as the complainant in Docket #FIC 1996-216. On February 13, 1997, the Commission rejected the interpretation set forth at paragraph 4, above, and concluded that the respondents in Docket #FIC 1996-216 did not violate 1-21(a), G.S.

6. Similarly, herein, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the provisions of 1-21(a), G.S., or any other provision of the FOI Act.

7. The respondents, in turn, seek the imposition of civil penalties against the complainant pursuant to 1-21i(b)(2), G.S., which provides in pertinent part:

If the Commission finds that a person has taken an appeal …frivolously, without reasonable grounds and solely for the purpose of harassing the agency from which the appeal was taken, after such person has been given the opportunity to be heard … the Commission may, in its discretion, impose against that person a civil penalty of not less than twenty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars….

8. The Commission also takes administrative notice of its final decision in Docket #FIC 1996-101, in which the Commission made a finding that the complainant therein, who is also the complainant herein, brought her complaint frivolously, without reasonable grounds and solely for the purpose of harassing the respondents, within the meaning of 1-21i(b)(2), G.S. However, in Docket #FIC 1996-101, the Commission declined to impose a civil penalty against the complainant.

9. Because the identical legal issue resolved at paragraph 6, above, was very recently decided against the complainant in Docket #FIC 1996-216, because the Commission made a finding that the complainant’s sole purpose was to harass in Docket #FIC 1996-101, and because the complainant has a continuing motive for harassing the respondents based upon an ongoing dispute concerning land use on a property across the street from the complainant’s residence, it is found that the complainant’s appeal herein was taken frivolously, without reasonable grounds and solely for the purpose of harassing the respondents, within the meaning of 1-21i(b)(2), G.S.

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.

2. Based on the respondents’ request, the Commission declines to impose a civil penalty.

3. The Commission cautions the complainant that further appeals brought to this Commission frivolously, without reasonable grounds and solely for the purpose of harassing respondents may lead to the imposition of more severe civil penalties in amounts of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000.00).

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 23, 1997.

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission

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:
Veronica Kasperzak
120 George Wood Road
P.O. Box 601
Somers, CT 06071

Lee Hall, Chairman, Zoning Commission, Town of Somers; Deborah Numrych, Patricia Jones, Robert Landry, and Henry Singer, as members of the Zoning Commission, Town of Somers; and Zoning Commission, Town of Somers
c/o Carl T. Landolina, Esq.
Fahey, Landolina & Associates, LLC
487 Spring Street, Suite Two
Windsor Locks, CT 06096

Lee Hall
Zoning Commission, Town Of Somers
P.O. Box 308
Somers, CT 06071

Deborah Numrych
Zoning Commission, Town Of Somers
P.O. Box 308
Somers, CT 06071

Patricia Jones
Zoning Commission, Town Of Somers
P.O. Box 308
Somers, CT 06071

Robert Landry
Zoning Commission, Town Of Somers
P.O. Box 308
Somers, CT 06071

Henry Singer
Zoning Commission, Town Of Somers
P.O. Box 308
Somers, CT 06071

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-523/FD/eal/beh/08011997