FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
155 Temple Street LC,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-206
Mayor, City of New Haven; Office
of Business Development, City of
New Haven; Office of the Corporation
Counsel, City of New Haven; and City
of New Haven,
Respondents February 10, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 13, 1998 at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Contested case docket #FIC 1998-204, Ronald J. Cohen v. Corporation Counsel, Office of the Corporation Counsel, City of New Haven; and City of New Haven, was consolidated with the above captioned matter for purpose of hearing.


        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.

        2. It is found that by letters dated February 12 and April 17, 1998 the complainant requested from the respondents copies of all public records relating to the following:

i. all agreements, proposals, communications or arrangements between the city of New Haven ("city") and the Foundation of Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, Inc., concerning the Chaple Square Mall;

ii. all agreements, proposals, communications or arrangements between the city and Chaple Square of New Haven Inc., concerning the Chaple Square Mall;

iii. all agreements, proposals, communications or arrangements between the city and the New Haven Chamber of Commerce, concerning the Chaple Square Mall;

iv. 155 Temple Street LC, David Cordish, The Cordish Company, Cordish Holdings LC, Omni New Haven, Inc.;

v. the acquisition and/or renovation of 172-178 Temple Street by the city, or any person or entity designated by the city after the execution of the development agreement between the city and the complainant;

vi. all proposals by Westfield Development Corporation concerning a) Chaple Square Mall or b) property located on Sargent Drive or Long Wharf;

vii. the relocation of the Yale Co-op to Chaple Square Mall;

viii. the leasing of space in Chaple Square Mall by the Yale Co-op;

ix. the leasing of space in the office tower at 900 Chaple Street by the New Haven Chamber of Commerce;

x. the operation or development of the Chaple Square Mall during the period January 1, 1994 to the present;

xi. all communications between the city, the mayor or the office of Business Development and Attorney John Hogan, Jr., concerning a) Chaple Square Mall b) the complainant c) the Park Plaza hotel d) the Foundation of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, e) Chaple Square of New Haven, Inc., or f) the New Haven Chamber of Commerce or g) 900 Chaple Street;

xii. the development of property on Sargent Drive or Long Wharf during the period January 1, 1994 to the present;

xiii. bus routes and bus stops near the New Haven Green during the period January 1, 1994 to the present;

xiv. The city’s acquisition of Chaple Square Mall from the Rouse Company;

xv. The acquisition of Chaple Square Mall by Chaple Square of New Haven, Inc.;

xvi. the formation and/or incorporation of the Foundation of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, Inc.;

xvii. the formation and/or incorporation of Chaple Square of New Haven, Inc.;

xviii. the acquisition of the first mortgage loan on the Chaple Square Mall from the New York State Teachers retirement System by the Foundation of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, Inc.;

xix. redevelopment of the former Macy’s building during the period January 1, 1994 to the present; and

xx. redevelopment of the former Malley Department Store site during the period January 1, 1994 to the present

        3. It is found that by letter July 6, 1998 the respondent corporation counsel denied the request claiming that the requested records are exempt pursuant to 1-19(b)(4), G.S.

        4. Having failed to receive the requested records the complainant by letter dated July 17, 1998 and filed on July 20, 1998 appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying it a copy of the requested records.

        5. Section 1-15(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part:

Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.

        6. Section 1-18a(5), G.S., further provides that:

"Public records or files" means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

        7. In addition 1-19(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part:

Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.

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

        9. Section 1-19(b)(4), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of "[r]ecords pertaining to strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims or pending litigation to which the public agency is a party until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled."

        10. It is found that a lawsuit, filed by the complainant against the city, the respondent mayor and others on or about February 20, 1998, is pending in the United States district court in Connecticut.

        11. It is also found that the respondents have not conducted a review of the requested records to determine which ones, if any, are exempt. The respondents however, claim that all of the requested records pertain in some way to the litigation described in paragraph 10, above, and are therefore, exempt.

        12. It is found that the respondents have not provided any evidence to prove a claim of exemption pursuant to 1-19(b)(4), G.S.

        13. Consequently, it is concluded that the respondents violated 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainant with a copy of the requested records.

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

        1. The respondents shall forthwith provide the complainant with copies of the requested records.

        2. Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 10, 1999.

 

 

_________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

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:

 

155 Temple Street LC
c/o Atty. Barbara L. Cox
Gallagher, Gallagher & Calistro
1377 Boulevard
PO Box 1925
New Haven, CT 06509

 

Mayor, City of New Haven;
Office of Business Development,
City of New Haven; Office of the
Corporation Counsel, City of New
Haven; and City of New Haven
c/o Atty. Thayer Baldwin
Office of Corporate Counsel
City of New Haven
165 Church Street
New Haven, CT 06510

 

 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-206FD/mrb02161999