FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Jeffrey T. Kriete,

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 Docket #FIC 2002-238

Board of Assessment Appeals,

Town of Westbrook

 

 

Respondent

 January 22, 2003

 

 

 

 

            The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 12, 2002, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The hearing was reopened on November 6, 2002, for the sole purpose of considering whether to accept as evidence an audio tape recording of the respondentís May 15, 2002 meeting.  The recording has been admitted into evidence and constitutes part of the record in this case.

           

            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 ß1-200(1), G.S.

 

            2.  By letter of complaint received and filed with the Commission on May 24, 2002, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by preventing members of the public from attending the regular meeting of the respondent held on May 15, 2002.

 

            3.  It is found that the respondent held a properly noticed regular meeting on May 15, 2002.  It is also found that the complainant attended this meeting and presented his request for a property tax assessment reduction.

 

            4.  At the hearing on this matter, the complainant alleged that during the May 15, 2002 meeting and while he was in the room, the Chairperson of the respondent, closed the door leading to the meeting room and informed the complainant that the meeting was private.  The complainant stated that such action was taken to exclude the public from attending the meeting.  The complainant also stated that although there were people standing in the hallway of the respondentís meeting when the Chairperson closed the door, the complainant was not aware of anyone who may have wanted to enter the meeting room.

 

            5.  At the hearing on this matter, the respondent denied that it excluded the public from attending the meeting.

 

            6.  At the hearing on this matter, the complainant further contended that the agenda prepared for the May 15, 2002 regular meeting did not constitute proper notice and filing of an agenda for that meeting and that the respondents violated the FOI Act because he did not have adequate notice that a decision would be made regarding his request for a property tax assessment reduction.

 

            7.  With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 6, above, it is found that this matter was not fairly raised in the complaint in this case and therefore the Commission lacks jurisdiction to address it.

 

            8.  Section 1-225(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that ď[t]he meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-200, shall be open to the public.Ē 

 

            9.  It is found that the door to the meeting room was closed with no intention to deny the complainant, or any other person, access to attend the respondentís May 15, 2002 meeting.

 

            10.  It is also found that no person was denied access to the respondent commissionís May 15, 2002 meeting.

 

            11.  It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act as alleged by the complainant.

 

            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 January 22, 2003.

 

_______________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

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:

 

Jeffrey T. Kriete

342 North Grove Beach Road

Westbrook, CT  06498

 

Board of Assessment Appeals,

Town of Westbrook

c/o John S. Bennet, Esq.

35 Plains Road

P.O. Box 959

Essex, CT 06426

 

 

 

 

________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2002-238/FD/mes/1/24/2003