Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Monroe v. Freedom of Information Commission
An executive session may be convened to discuss options that may be taken to enforce legal rights. Handsome Inc. requested that the Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Monroe extend a special exception for five years. The P&Z denied the request. After Judge Howard Owens reversed, the P&Z convened in executive session approximately 50 minutes "to discuss legal matter on general zoning enforcement," then voted to extend the special exception and to require a $100,000 bond. Handsome filed a complaint to the Freedom of Information Commission, alleging that the P&Z violated the Freedom of Information Act, because it convened in executive session. The chairman of the P&Z testified that the executive session was held to discuss Judge Owens' decision, the special exception and zoning enforcement options. The Freedom of Information Commission found that discussion of Judge Owens' decision was not permitted in executive session. "[T]he respondents' discussions," wrote the commission, "do not constitute strategy and negotiation with respect to pending litigation, pursuant to §§1-200(6)(B) and 1-200(9)(c)." The Freedom of Information Commission ordered the respondents to comply with C.G.S. §§1-225(a) and 1-231(a) of the Freedom of Information Act in the future. The respondents appealed. The Superior Court found that the commission correctly ruled that convening in executive session to discuss Judge Owens' court decision was improper. To the extent that the executive session was convened to discuss options that could be taken to enforce legal rights, the court found that the executive session did not violate the Freedom of Information Act, and it remanded to the Freedom of Information Commission.