OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Docket #FIC 2000-016
Director, Planning and Zoning
June 14, 2000
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested
case on March 1, 2000, at which time the complainant and the respondent
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 is a public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1),
By letter dated
December 18, 1999, the complainant made a request to the respondent for the
leading to the issuance of the 1962 Special Permit 62-28;”
regarding the approval of the above permit;”
“copies of the
eight lawsuits that surrounded the 1962 permit along with the judgments to
regarding the building permits issued to permits the lots 22 and 22A and 23
from 1961 to present (sic);”
regarding and leading to the condominium approval in the early 1980’s;”
“all the lawsuits
surrounding the condominium with judgments;”
regarding the Special Marina Permit reinstatement in January 1981 after the
condominium suits were settled;”
regarding October 17, 1995 approval;”
“post 1995 meeting
minutes, memos, complainants, telecoms, denials and approvals of zoning and
buildings applications and permits;”
regarding the May 20, 1997 approval;” and
“any information on
the alleged July 3 meeting – on this meeting I especially need any notices
issued and the return cards of the abutting property owner and the property
owners and/or their councils (sic).”
By letter dated and
filed on January 11, 2000, the complainant appealed to this Commission
alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”)
Act by failing to respond to his December 18, 1999 records request.
The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty.
4. Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:
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 receive a copy of such records
in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.
Any agency rule or regulation, or part thereof, that conflicts with the
provisions of this subsection or diminishes or curtails in any way the rights
granted by this subsection shall be void.”
5. Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record . . . .”
6. It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of §1-210(a), G.S.
7. It is found that after having provided the complainant with eighty percent of the requested records, in compliance with a previous request, the respondent found the complainant’s records request to be broad and unclear and sought the advice of legal counsel as to how to respond to the complainant.
8. It is found that the respondent did not respond to the complainant’s records request until February 7, 2000, at which time the respondent stated that the complainant needed to clarify his request with respect to certain items requested, but that the remaining items were available and would be copied.
9. It is found that by letter dated February 9, 2000, the complainant provided the respondent with the clarification requested.
10. It is found that the respondents sent the requested records to an outside printing service, which service took longer than promised to complete the copying, and provided the complainant with the copies on or around February 28, 2000.
11. It is found that the respondent found more documents responsive to the complainant’s records request and provided them to the complainant at the hearing on this matter.
12. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant expressed concerns that because of the disorganized manner in which the planning and zoning commission maintains its records, all of the records responsive to his request may not have been provided.
13. It is found that the respondent had trouble locating the requested records because many of them are not maintained at the planning and zoning commission’s office, but are archived at another location.
14. It is also found, however, that the respondent has made a good faith effort to locate and provide all of the documents to the complainant that are responsive to his records request.
15. Notwithstanding the finding in paragraph 14, above, however, it is concluded that the respondent violated the provisions of §1-210(a), G.S., by failing to promptly respond to the complainant’s records request.
16. Based on the evidence in this case, the Commission declines to impose a civil penalty in this matter.
following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the
record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. The respondent shall forthwith undertake a diligent search for the records identified in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, as clarified by the letter identified in paragraph 9 of the findings, above, among all of the Town of Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission records, wherever located. If records responsive to the complainant’s request are found, the respondent shall forthwith provide copies of such records to the complainant, free of charge. If no other records responsive to the complainant’s request are found, the respondent shall forthwith provide the complainant with an affidavit detailing the scope, duration, and results of the search.
2. The complainant may pursue any allegations of violations of record retention requirements with the State Public Records Administrator who has jurisdiction over such matters.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of
June 14, 2000.
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:
c/o Atty. Richard D. Dixon
58 Huntington Street
New London, CT 06320
Director, Planning and Zoning Commission, Town of Stonington
c/o Atty. Jeffrey T. Londregan
Conway & Londregan, PC
38 Huntington Street, PO Box 1351
New London, CT 06320-6071
Melanie R. Balfour