FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Robert Fromer,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-462

Linnea Gilbert, Chairman, Inland Wetlands

and Watercourses Commission, Town of

Windsor; Ruth Jefferis, Willia Nemetz,

Paul St. Amand, and Lillard Jay Lewis, as

Members, Inland Wetlands and Watercourses

Commission, Town of Windsor; and Inland

Wetlands and Watercourses Commission,

 
  Respondents May 25, 2011
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 16, 2010, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The case caption has been amended to correct the name of the chairman, reflect the full name of the respondent agency, and to eliminate the complainant as a respondent, in view of the fact that he had been suspended from his position as a member of the respondent agency at the time of the alleged violation, and thus was not present at the meeting in question, and to add as a respondent an additional member of the respondent agency who was present at the meeting in question. 

           

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 dated and filed July 27, 2010[1], the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act, when, at the July 13, 2010 special meeting (the “special meeting”), the respondents improperly voted to add two items to the agenda, consisting of two applications, considered, and voted to accept such applications.  In addition, the complainant alleges that Section VI of the agenda for the special meeting, which stated “Agent Report.  Status of Violations,” was not specific enough to communicate to the public the business to be transacted by the agency, because it did not specify the violations to be reported.   


            The complainant requested that the votes to add to the agenda and to accept the two applications be declared null and void, and that civil penalties be imposed against the respondents for “persistent violation of the statute.”

 

            3.  Section 1-225(d), G.S., provides, in relevant part, that “[n]otice 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…The notice shall specify the time and place of the special meeting and the business to be transacted.  No other business shall be considered at such meetings by such public agency….”

 

            4.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents conceded, and it is found, that they voted to add the items to the agenda, and considered, and voted to accept the applications, in violation of 1-225(d), G.S., as alleged in paragraph 2, above.  However, the respondents asserted that the items were added by mistake, at the request of the inland wetlands agent (“agent”), whose intention was to comply with the town’s inland wetlands regulations regarding the timeframe for acceptance of applications.

           

            5.  Based upon the findings in paragraph 4, above, it is concluded that the respondents violated 1-225(d), G.S.  

 

            6.  It is found that, the day after the special meeting, the agent realized her mistake in adding the items to the agenda, and that she and the individual respondents understood that the votes taken at the special meeting were invalid.  Accordingly, she telephoned the applicants’ representative and explained to him that the votes were invalid, and that, in accordance with the regulations, the applications would therefore be accepted by operation of law, rather than by a vote of the commission. 

 

            7.  With regard to the allegation, described in paragraph 2, above, that the agenda was not specific enough to apprise the public of the business to be transacted by the agency at the special meeting, it is found that the “Agent Report,” listed in item VI of the agenda, consisted of the inland wetlands agent’s informational report to the members of the respondent agency concerning inland wetlands violations.  It is found that, based upon the facts and circumstances of this case, the agenda item, described in paragraph 2, above, was specific enough to inform the public that the agent would be reporting to the respondent agency on the status of inland wetlands violations.

 

            8.  Based upon the findings in paragraph 7, above, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate 1-225(d), G.S.       

 

            9.  The Commission declines to declare the votes described in paragraphs 4 and 6, described above, null and void.  The Commission further declines to consider the imposition of civil penalties in this case.

 

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

            1.    Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-225(d), G.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 25, 2011.

 

 

 

___________________________

S. Wilson

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 Fromer

P.O. Box 71

Windsor, CT 06095

 

Linnea Gilbert, Chairman, Inland Wetlands

and Watercourses Commission, Town of

Windsor; Ruth Jefferis, Willia Nemetz,

Paul St. Amand, and Lillard Jay Lewis, as

Members, Inland Wetlands and Watercourses

Commission, Town of Windsor; and Inland

Wetlands and Watercourses Commission

C/o Vincent W. Oswecki, Jr., Esq.

O’Malley, Deneen, Leary, Messina & Oswecki

20 Maple Avenue

P.O. Box 504

Windsor, CT 06095

 

 

 

___________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

FIC/2010-462FD/sw/5/31/2011



[1] The July 27, 2010 letter is designated as a “revised appeal” by the complainant.  The original letter of complaint received by the Commission is dated July 23, 2010.