FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Thomas E. Brown,

 
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2011-253

Zoning Compliance Officer,

Town of Simsbury;

Director of Planning,

Town of Simsbury; and

Town of Simsbury,

 
  Respondents

March 28, 2012

       

 

           

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 29, 2011, and February 6, 2012, at which times 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.  By letter filed May 16, 2011, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his request for public records.

 

3.  It is found that the complainant made a May 9, 2011 request for records of the Director of Planning and the Zoning Compliance Officer pertaining to a land use issue that affected him, including a written request to the town attorney for a February 8, 2010 legal opinion, telephone records, letters, and emails.

 

4. It is found that the respondents replied on May 9, 2011, providing all records that they believed were reasonably responsive to the request. (The immediacy of the response owes to the fact that the respondents had previously responded to an identical request from the complainant.)

 

5.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:

 

“Public records or files” means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

 

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

 

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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.    

 

7.  It is concluded that the requested records, to the extent they exist, are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.

 

8. It is found that the respondents provided the complainant with all of the records reasonably responsive to his request. While the complainant contended at the second hearing on this matter that certain records had been improperly withheld on the basis of the attorney-client privilege, or because certain emails were “personal,” it is found that the only records withheld from the complainant were those that did not pertain to the underlying land use issue that was the complainant’s reason for his request.

 

9.  The complainant also contended at the second hearing that the emails provided to him were in an electronic format that he could not open. It is found, however, that the complainant had not requested any particular format; that emails were in a commonly used format; and that the respondents offered their assistance in opening the electronic files.

 

10. The complainant also contended at the second hearing that there must be more telephone records than the ones provided to him. It is found, however, that the respondents provided all existing telephone records responsive to the complainant’s request.

 

11.  It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as alleged.

 

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

 

 

1.  The complaint is dismissed.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 28, 2012.

 

__________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

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:

 

Thomas E. Brown

30 Sand Hill Road

Weatogue, CT  06089

 

Zoning Compliance Officer, Town of Simsbury; Director of Planning,

Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury

c/o Robert M. DeCrescenzo, Esq.

Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C.

100 Pearl Street

P.O. Box 231277

Hartford, CT  06103

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2011-253/FD/cac/4/4/2012