FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Edward C. Hall,

 

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 

Docket #FIC 1997-404

Town Manager, Town of Mansfield and Town of Mansfield,

 

 

Respondents

April 22, 1998

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 4, 1998, 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 respondent town manager is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(1), G.S.

        2. It is found that by letter dated December 8, 1997, the complainant requested that the respondent town manger disclose to him any and all information, records, documentation, notes, tape recordings, computer accessible files on-line or off-line and any other records, including investigation records concerning the investigation of the complainant or the complainant’s business, Thistle Springs Farms, Inc., for the period January 1, 1997 through December 8, 1997, inclusive (hereinafter "requested records.

        3. It is found that by letter dated December 8, 1997, the respondent town manager informed the complainant that the fire marshal of the town of Mansfield ("fire marshal"), in conjunction with the state police, were conducting an investigation into certain allegations of improper disposal of solid wastes and hazardous waste materials on the complainant’s property ("investigation"), and that the complainant would be notified when the investigation was closed, at which time he could get a copy of the investigation file.

        4. Having failed to receive the requested records, the complainant, by letter dated and filed December 15, 1997, appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying him a copy of the requested records. The complainant requested that a civil penalty be imposed upon the respondents.

        5. It is found that the fire marshal maintains records that are responsive to the complainant’s request and such records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(5), G.S. and 1-19(a), G.S.

        6. Section 1-19(b)(3), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of:

records of law enforcement agencies not otherwise available to the public which records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime, if the disclosure of said records would not be in the public interest because it would result in the disclosure of (A) the identity of informants not otherwise known or the identity of witnesses not otherwise known whose safety would be endangered or who would be subject to threat or intimidation if their identity was made known, (B) signed statements of witnesses, (C) information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action if prejudicial to such action….

        7. It is found that the fire marshal is a law enforcement agency within the meaning of 1-19(b)(3), G.S.

        8. It is also found that the records at issue were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime and the disclosure of such records would result in the disclosure of the identity of an informant and witnesses within the meaning of 1-19(b)(3), G.S.

        9. It is further found that the fire marshal is awaiting the response of the state’s attorney’s office with respect to whether a warrant will be sought. In addition, it is found that upon receipt of the state’s attorney’s decision, the fire marshal will write a final report of the investigation.

        10. Consequently it is found that the investigation has not been closed.

        11. It is therefore, concluded that the requested records are permissively exempt from disclosure and therefore, the respondents did not violate 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., when they failed to provide the complainant with a copy of such records.

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

        1. The complaint is dismissed.

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 22, 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:
Edward C. Hall
35 Mansfield Hollow Road
Mansfield Center, CT 06250

Town Manager, Town of Mansfield; and Town of Mansfield
c/o Daniel K. Lamont
Box 384
Willimantic, CT 06226

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-404/FD/tcg/04271998