FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Joseph Goetz,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-780
Leo P. Null, Building Official,
Building Department, City of Danbury;
and Building Department, City of Danbury,
 
  Respondents June 23, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was scheduled to be heard as a contested case on April 21, 2010.  The complainant did not appear.  The respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The complainant sent letters dated April 3, 2010, April 17, 2010 and April 19, 2010 to the Commission.  All such letters are in the administrative record in this matter.

 

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.  By letter filed with the Commission on December 28, 2009, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (hereinafter “FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with copies of the records described in paragraph 3, below.

 

3.  It is found that, by letter dated December 4, 2009, the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with copies of records related to a condominium unit located at Candlelight Terrace, #17 Candlelight Drive, Danbury, CT 06811.  The complainant specified that his request included the certificate of occupancy and any other information regarding the approval of building reports, but not records pertaining to the plumbing or electrical inspections (hereinafter the “requested records”).

 

            4.  It is found that, by letter dated December 9, 2009, the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s request for records, stating that “[r]equests for information are addressed in the order they are received.”  They also stated that there were six requests ahead of the complainant’s request and asked that he give them 1-2 weeks to respond to his request. 

 

5.  It is found that, by letter filed with the respondents on December 14, 2009, the complainant inquired about his request and also modified his request to include all inspection reports, including electrical and plumbing.

 

6.  It is found that, by letter dated December 29, 2009, the respondents updated the complainant on the status of his December 4, 2009 request for records, stating that they were still in the process of searching for the records, and asking that the complainant be patient with them due to the age of the requested records, limited staffing, and annual budget preparations. 

 

7.  It is found that, by letter dated January 11, 2010, the respondents informed the complainant they had completed the search for the requested records, by stating that “the only related permit found for the address was issued 1-20-75 for the temporary sales building on East Pembroke Road” and that “[n]o permit listing was found for the condominium building.”

 

8.  It is found that, by letter dated March 8, 2010, the respondents informed the complainant that they had located additional requested records while searching for the certificate of occupancy of another property, and fortuitously found the certificate of occupancy for the Candlelight Terrace condominiums.  The respondents also informed the complainant that they had not located the requested records during the initial search because the assessor’s records were incorrect, and indicated that the unit was built in 1975, when the unit was actually built in June of 1973.  The respondents provided the original permit, inspection card, and certificate of occupancy for #17 Candlelight Drive, at no cost.

 

            9.  Section 1-200(5) G.S., defines “public records or files” as:

 

Any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, … whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

 

            10.  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.

 

11.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.”

 

12.  It is found that the records requested by the complainant, to the extent that they are maintained or kept on file by the respondents, are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.

 

            13.  It is found that the respondents attempted to provide the complainant with the requested records, but after their initial search, did not find the records because the assessor’s records were incorrect. 

 

14.  It is also found that, based upon the credible testimony of Leo Null, the respondent building official, the respondents performed a generally diligent search for the requested records and ultimately found the requested records months after the request, by using a permit number of another Candlelight Terrace unit to backtrack to the inspection card for the original Candlelight Terrace construction.  Mr. Null also testified that numerous files have been inadvertently misfiled, particularly older records such as the records at issue herein, by various officials who have access to, and share, the records vault.

 

15.  Based on the facts and circumstances of this case, it is concluded that the respondents 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 June 23, 2010.

 

 

____________________________

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:

 

Joseph Goetz

107 Osborne Street, Suite 312

Danbury, CT 06810

 

Leo P. Null, Building Official,

Building Department, City of Danbury;

and Building Department, City of Danbury

c/o Laszlo L. Pinter, Esq. and

Dianne E. Rosemark, Esq.

Corporation Counsel

City of Danbury

155 Deer Hill Avenue

Danbury, CT 06810

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2009-780FD/paj/6/28/2010