In the Matter of a Complaint by


Steve Sudell,






 Docket #FIC 2000-119

Town Manager, Town of Rocky Hill,




August 23, 2000





The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 28, 2000, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared 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), G.S.


2.  By letter dated February 17, 2000 to the respondent, the complainant made a request for “all information pertaining to the Rocky Hill High School Auditorium renovations including the architect of record and consultants (including addresses and phone numbers), minutes of all meetings during which the renovation project was discussed, documentation concerning the bid process, and the RFPs.”   The complainant also requested 24 hours notice of any meetings of the Government Operations Committee and the Permanent Building Committee.


3.      By letter dated March 8, 2000 and filed on March 13, 2000, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that because the respondent failed to respond to his request within four business days, the respondent denied his request and such denial is in violation of the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act.


4.      Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:


“[e]xcept 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.      At the hearing on this matter, the complainant clarified his request to include access to a website that contains many, if not all, of the architectural plans for the auditorium project.


8.      It is found that the respondent received the complainant’s request on February 17, 2000 and forwarded it to the respondent’s FOI officer, who is also the town clerk, who began compiling the responsive records that were maintained by the town at the time of the request.


9.      It is found that on or about February 22, 2000, the complainant’s brother, Kevin Sudell, presented himself at the office of the town clerk and made an inquiry about the progress of the compilation of the records he, Kevin Sudell, requested. 


10.   It is found that the town clerk/FOI officer was not aware of any other request made by either of the Sudell brothers and reasonably believed that Kevin Sudell was inquiring about the February 17, 2000 request and provided him with access to inspect the records she had compiled from which he, Kevin Sudell, selected certain records and received copies of the same. 


11.   It is also found that the town clerk/FOI officer reasonably believed that she had complied with Steven Sudell’s request and having heard nothing to the contrary, until the notice of a complaint was sent to her by this Commission, she did not proceed any further regarding his request.


12.   With respect to the complainant’s request for 24 hours notice of any meetings of the Government Operations Committee and the Permanent Building Committee, it is found that the town clerk/FOI officer informed the appropriate individuals regarding the complainant’s request and instructed them to provide the complainant with notice.


13.   It is found that the complainant received a list of the dates on which the meetings of the Permanent Building Committee would take place from the facilities manager and that, at that time the Government Operations Committee had not met again since the complainant’s request for notice of its meetings and therefore no notice had been provided to the complainant.


14.   The complainant contends that the list he received from the facilities manager did not fully comply with his request because it did not include the time or location of the meetings and thereby failed to give him meaningful notice of the meetings. 


15.   Section 1-227, G.S., provides in relevant part that “[t]he 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.”


16.   Notwithstanding the complainant’s allegations, it is found that he failed to prove that the notice provided by the facilities manager was in anyway deficient.


17.   With respect to the complainant’s request for access to the website, it is found that the website is an in-house website of Vinick Associates Incorporated used for “in-progress architectural drawings” related to the auditorium project.


18.   It is found that Vinick Associates Incorporated is a private company that has contracted with the contracting company for the auditorium project and denied the town’s request to provide access to the website to town residents.


19.   It is found that the website is a secure site that can only be accessed through a series of passwords, which the town does not have. 


20.   It is found that the town facilities manager may gain access to the website upon request to Vinick Associates Incorporated and by using a temporary password provided by Vinick Associates Incorporated that is different upon every request and allows him access for a limited number of hours.


21.   It is found that access through the facilities manager’s computer terminal was offered to the complainant and his brother, but was refused because such access was not in the form they desired which was access to the website from their home, or any other computer terminal, at will.


22.   It is found that a good faith effort was made to provide the complainant with access to the website.


23.   Based upon the evidence in this case, it is found that the respondent acted reasonably in his efforts to comply with every aspect of the complainant’s request.


24.  It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent did not violate the provisions of §1-210(a) or §1-227, G.S., with respect to the complainant’s February 17, 2000 request.





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.      The Commission notes the complainant’s and his brother’s failure to seek clarity regarding the lack of response to the complainant’s request before filing the complaint with this Commission and that such failure created an unnecessary delay in compliance with the complainant’s request.  Given the fact that misunderstandings regarding their identities are “a fact of life for them,” the Commission encourages the complainant and his brother to operate in the spirit of cooperation to make clear who is whom with respect to future FOI requests.





Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 23, 2000.




Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission






Steve Sudell

30 Chapin Avenue

Rocky Hill, CT  06067



Town Manager, Town of Rocky Hill

c/o Atty. Michael H. Heneghan

Heneghan, Kennedy & Allen, LLC

West Hill Center, 21 New Britain Avenue

Rocky Hill, CT  06067-1130







Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission