FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Fairfield Resources Management, Inc. and Rock Acquisition Limited Partnership,

 

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 

Docket #FIC 1997- 347

Stanley Kurpiewski, Chairman, Brookfield Inland-Wetland Commission, Town of Brookfield; and the Brookfield Inland-Wetland Commission, Town of Brookfield,

 

 

Respondents

March 11, 1998

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 13, 1998, 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(1), G. S., (prior to October 1, 1997, 1-18a(a), G.S.).

        2. By letter dated November 14, 1996, to the respondent chairman, the complainants, requested "written notice of every meeting of the Brookfield Zoning Commission on matters concerning Fairfield Resources and the property known as 78 Laurel Mountain Road . . ."

        3. It is found that after receipt of the complainants’ request, the complainants’ counsel received a call from the Brookfield town clerk’s office informing him that there was an error in the request in that the request was directed to the Inland-Wetland Commission for notice of Zoning Commission meetings. The complainants’ counsel was further informed that the request would be honored as a request to receive notice of every meeting of the Brookfield Inland-Wetland Commission on matters concerning Fairfield Resources and the property known as 98 Laurel Mountain Road.

        4. It is also found that by letter dated November 21, 1996, the complainants submitted a corrected request for notice of "every meeting of the Brookfield Inland-Wetland Commission on matters concerning Fairfield Resources and the property known as 98 Laurel Mountain Road . . ."

        5. It is found that on October 27, 1997, the respondent commission held a meeting and that under the agenda item "new business" the respondent commission discussed the complainant Fairfield Resources.

        6. It is found that by letter dated October 30, 1997 and filed with this Commission on November 3, 1997, the complainants alleged that the respondent commission violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to provide them with notice of the October 27, 1997, meeting as requested. The complainants also requested the imposition of civil penalties.

        7. Section 1-21c, G.S., in relevant part, states that a public agency:

…shall, where practicable, give notice by mail of each regular meeting, and of any special meeting which is called, at least one week prior to the date set for the meeting, to any person who has filed a written request for such notice with such body, except that such body may give such notice as it deems practical of special meetings called less than seven days prior to the date set for the meeting….Any request for notice filed pursuant to this section shall be valid for one year from the date on which it is filed unless a renewal request is filed. Renewal requests for notice shall be filed within thirty days after January first of each year. Such public agency may establish a reasonable charge for sending such notice based on the estimated cost of providing such service.

        8. At the hearing, the respondents moved to have the complaint dismissed on the grounds that the request for notice, referenced in paragraph 2, above, was deficient in that it asked for notice of the meetings of a separate commission and that any evidence which relies on a request for notice other than the letter dated November 14, 1996, as described in paragraph 2, above, constitutes a new complainant and should not be considered. Accordingly, the respondents contend that they were not obliged by 1-21c, G.S., to comply with the complainants’ request and therefore could not have violated such statute. The respondents also moved for a continuance of the hearing to provide an opportunity for the hearing officer to review the respondents’ motion to dismiss.

        9. The respondents’ motions, as described in paragraph 8, above, were denied.

        10. It is found that the complainants did not receive notice of the respondent commission’s October 27, 1997 meeting, per their request, because the complainants were not listed on the agenda as an item to be taken up at that meeting.

        11. The complainants argued that the respondents nevertheless violated 1-21c, G.S., because the respondents discussed the complainants without providing them with notice that they would be discussed. They further contend that any discussion of the complainants without prior notice as requested, even under the item "other business" or by a two thirds vote, would be an attempt to circumvent the meaning and spirit of the provisions found in 1-21c, G.S.

        12. Section 1-21c, G.S., mandates that, where practicable, notice be provided of each regular meeting and any special meetings to one who requests and, where applicable, pays a reasonable fee for, such service.

        13. It is found that the complainants’ letters described respectively in paragraphs 2 and 4, above, did not request notice of each regular meeting and any special meetings of the respondent commission, but rather it requested notice of particular meetings.

        14. It is concluded, however, that the respondents were not obliged by 1-21c, G.S., to provide written notice to the complainants of any particular meeting by subject matter, as requested by the complainants.

        15. Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate 1-21c, G.S., by failing to provide timely notice to the complainants of the October 27, 1997 meeting of the respondent commission.

        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 March 11, 1998.

_________________________
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:
Fairfield Resources Management, Inc. and Rock Acquisition Limited Partnership
c/o Timothy J. Lee and Leonard Fasano
388 Orange Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Stanley Kurpiewski, Chairman, Brookfield Inland-Wetland Commission, Town of Brookfield; and the Brookfield Inland-Wetland Commission, Town of Brookfield
c/o Francis J. Collins
Collins, Hannafin, Garamella, Jaber & Tuozzolo, P.C.
148 Dear Hill Avenue
Danbury, CT 06810-7728

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-347/FD/tcg/03131998