OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Robert P. LeBlanc,
|Docket #FIC 2002-249|
Chairman, Zoning Board
of Appeals, Town of Watertown;
and Zoning Enforcement Officer,
Town of Watertown,
|May 28, 2003|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 10, 2002, 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
2. It is found that on May 17, 2002, the complainant visited the
respondents’ office and dropped off a letter requesting that he be permitted
to inspect the minutes and “motion sheet” of the Zoning Board of Appeals (“board’s)
meeting of May 2, 2002. It is
found that the May 17, 2002 request also indicated “if the minutes are not
available…I request to listen to the recorded tapes.” It is found that the complainant was told on May 17, 2002
that no tape of the May 2, 2002 meeting was available due to a malfunction of
the tape recorder and further, that the minutes and motion sheet were not yet
available as the individual preparing them was backlogged.
3. It is found that on May 20, 2002, the complainant returned to
the respondents’ office and followed up regarding his request.
It is found that at that time, the complainant spoke to the respondent
zoning officer who explained to him about the problem with the malfunctioning
tape recorder and that she was in the midst of preparing the requested minutes
from her notes, which she had taken during the May 2, 2002 meeting.
4. Thereafter, by letter filed with this Commission on May 30,
2002, the complainant appealed, alleging that the respondents violated the
Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by:
their failure to have the minutes, motion sheet and tape of the board’s
May 2, 2002 meeting available for inspection on May 17, 2002, thereby denying
him access to such records; and
the failure of the respondent zoning officer to provide him with a
written reply of the denial of the request as described in paragraph 4a,
5. With respect to the allegation as described in paragraph 4a, above, §1-225(a), G.S., in relevant part provides that: “[m]inutes shall be available for public inspection within seven days of the session to which they refer.” Section 225(a), G.S., further provides, in relevant part that “the votes of each member of any such public agency upon any issue before such public agency shall be reduced to writing and made available for public inspection within forty-eight hours.” Section 1-225(g), G.S., further provides that:
In determining the time within
which or by when a … record of votes or minutes of a special meeting … are
required to be filed under this section, Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays
and any day on which the office of the agency … or the clerk of the
applicable political subdivision or the clerk of each municipal member of any
multitown district or agency, as the case may be, is closed, shall be
6. It is found that the board held a special meeting on May 2,
2002 (hereinafter “meeting”).
7. It is found that the board and the respondent chairman failed
to have the minutes and the record of votes of the May 2, 2002 special meeting
available for public inspection within the time periods required by §§1-225(a)
and (g), G.S., and therefore violated such provisions.
8. It is also found that the minutes and record of votes were
prepared and available for public inspection in the respondents’ office on
or about June 13, 2002. It is
found that the respondent zoning officer so informed the complainant in a
letter dated June 27, 2002. Such
letter also informed the complainant that the minutes and record of votes were
available in the town clerk’s office as well.
It is further found that the complainant received a copy of the minutes
and record of votes from the town clerk’s office soon after his receipt of
the June 27, 2002 letter.
9. It is further found that no tape recording of the May 2, 2002
meeting exists due to malfunctioning of the respondents’ tape recorder.
It is found that the respondents have taken the necessary steps to
repair the malfunctioning tape recorder and also plan on purchasing an
additional tape recorder. It is
found that while tape recording of the meeting is in keeping with the spirit
of the FOI Act, the respondents did not violate any provision of the FOI Act
by their failure to have a tape recording of the May 2, 2002 meeting.
10. With respect to the allegation as described in paragraph 4b) above, it is found that on May 20, 2002 the respondent zoning officer provided the complainant with a verbal response to his request for access to the minutes, motion sheet and tape of the May 2, 2002 meeting. It is found that the respondent zoning officer did not provide the complainant with a written response. It is found that under the circumstances a written response was not necessary. In addition, the verbal response was sufficient for the complainant to file this FOI complaint.
11. It is therefore concluded that the respondent zoning officer did not violate the FOI Act as alleged in paragraph 4b) above.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth, the respondent chairman and board shall ensure that the minutes and record of votes of the Zoning Board of Appeals’ meetings are available for public inspection within the time periods required by §§1-225(a) and (g), G.S.
2. The complaint is dismissed as against the respondent zoning officer.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 28, 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:
Robert P. LeBlanc
78 Highland Avenue
Watertown, CT 06795
Chairman, Zoning Board of Appeals,
Town of Watertown; and
Zoning Enforcement Officer,
Town of Watertown
c/o Randall S. McHugh, Esq.
Reiner, Reiner & Bendett PC
160 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06032
Ann B. Gimmartino
Acting Clerk of the Commission