FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Timothy Herbst,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-016
Planning and Zoning Commission, Town of
Trumbull,
 
  Respondent November 18, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 15, 2009, 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), G.S.

 

2.      By letter dated January 6, 2009 and filed by email the same day, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by holding a secret meeting. 

 

3.      Section 1-200(2), G.S., defines “meeting” as: 

 

…any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, any convening or assembly of a quorum of a multimember public agency, and any communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power…

 

4.      Section 1-200(3), G.S., defines “caucus” as:

 

(A) a convening or assembly of the enrolled members of a single political party who are members of a public agency within the state or a political subdivision…

 

5.      Section 1-225, G.S. provides in relevant part:

 

(a)  The meetings of all public agencies … shall be open to the public.   

                        …

 

(d)  Notice of each special meeting of every public agency … shall be posted not less than twenty-four hours before the meeting to which such notice refers on the public agency's Internet web site, if available, and given not less than twenty-four hours prior to the time of such meeting by filing a notice of the time and place thereof  … in the office of the clerk of such subdivision for any public agency of a political subdivision of the state…

 

6.      It is found that on January 5, 2009, three members of the respondent Planning and Zoning Commission met with four members of the Trumbull Town Council and the town’s Director of Economic Development to discuss a proposed set of Planning & Zoning Commission fees that the town council would be considering at its regularly scheduled meeting later that day.

 

7.       It is found that, although no formal motion was made or vote taken, at the conclusion of the gathering the town council members decided by consensus that the issue should be sent back to the council’s Legislation and Administration subcommittee and to the Planning and Zoning Commission for further review.  It is further found that the town council took that action by vote at its regularly scheduled meeting later that day.

 

8.      It is found that one of the three members of the Planning and Zoning Commission who attended the gathering described in paragraph 6, above, is an alternate member.  It is found that a quorum of the respondent Planning and Zoning Commission is three members.

 

9.      It is found that a quorum of the Planning and Zoning Commission attended the gathering described in paragraph 6, above.  Candace Jones-Pachloski v. Zoning Commission, Town of Harwinton; Docket #FIC 2006-672.

 

10.   It is further found that the three members of the Planning and Zoning Commission in attendance met to discuss or act upon a matter over which the respondent had supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.

 

11.   It is found that the First Selectman of the Town of Trumbull filed minutes of the meeting with the town clerk.  It is found that the minutes describe the meeting as a “caucus.”  It is found, however, that the meeting was not a caucus within the meaning of 1-200(3), G.S.

 

12.   It is found that the gathering described in paragraph 6, above, was a “meeting” within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S.   

 

13.   It is found that the respondent did not file notice of such meeting pursuant to 1-225(d), G.S.  Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondent violated 1-225(d), G.S.

 

14.     The FOI Commission notes that the meeting described in paragraph 6, above, likely was also a meeting of the town council, although the complainant did not make that allegation in his appeal to this Commission.

 

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

 

1.    Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-225, G.S.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 18, 2009.

 

 

____________________________

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:

 

Timothy Herbst

Owens, Schine & Nicola, PC

799 Silver Lane

Trumbull, CT 06611

 

Planning and Zoning Commission,

Town of Trumbull

c/o Vito Mazza, Esq.

Law Office of Vito Mazza

PO Box 542

Trumbull, CT 06611

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2009-016FD/paj/11/20/2009