FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
George Finley,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-440
Zoning Enforcement Officer, Town of Orange,  
  Respondent April 27, 2005
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 28, 2005, 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.      It is found that the respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.      By letter dated August 31, 2004, to the respondent, the complainant made a request to inspect the letters and postcards received by the zoning office or by the town of Orange during the Stew Leonard hearings of 1996-1997 [hereinafter “letters and postcards”].

 

3.      By letter dated September 13, 2004 and filed on September 27, 2004, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information  (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with his request.

 

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

 

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  . . . receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212. 

5.      It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

6.      It is found that the respondent conducted a six hour search of town’s zoning files of the years of 1996 through 1997 which are located in the attic storage area of the town of Orange’s Zoning offices, but was not able to find the letters and postcards.

 

7.      At the hearing on this matter, the respondent explained that while he believes the town maintains the letters and postcards, he simply cannot locate them as the storage area has become somewhat disorganized, since so many other departments and their personnel also use the storage area and that the letters and postcards may have been misplaced.

 

8.        It is found that the respondent failed to comply with the complainant’s request, however unwillfully, and it is concluded therefore that he violated 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to comply with the complainant’s request.

 

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

 

1.      If the respondent has not already done so, he shall forthwith conduct another search for the letters and postcards described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above.  If the letters and postcards are located, the respondent shall immediately contact the complainant and provide him with access to inspect them. If the letters and postcards are not found, the respondent shall provide the complainant with an affidavit detailing the scope, duration, and results of the search.

 

2.      With respect to the order in paragraph 1, above, the respondent shall solicit the assistance of the chief executive officer of the town of Orange to make the search for the letters and postcards more expeditious.  

 

3.      The complainant may, of course, pursue any allegations of violations of records retention requirements with the state public records retention administrator.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 27, 2005.

 

________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

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:

 

George Finley

c/o Marjorie Shansky, Esq.

61 E. Grand Avenue

New Haven, CT 06513 and

c/o Richard Civie,

320 Lambert Road

Orange, CT 06477

 

Zoning Enforcement Officer,

Town of Orange

c/o Brian M. Stone, Esq.

Sousa, Stone & D’Agosto, LLC

375 Bridgeport Avenue

PO Drawer 805

Shelton, CT 06484

 

 

 

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-440FD/paj/4/29/2005