A municipality that entered into executive session to discuss written concerns from residents was found to be in violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Freedom of Information Commission (Commission).
At a meeting of the Board of Selectman, the Board entered into an executive session to discuss a pending claim concerning the elimination of contamination on the site of the high school. During its hearing before the Commission, the municipality presented several emails and letters from residents whose property abuts the high school. While the documents indicated that the residents had contacted various state and federal agencies, and sought to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers involved with the renovation and remediation project, they did not demand legal relief or state the intention to institute legal action.
Although the residents had sought relief from officials, their communications fell short of the standard required to fall within the pending claim exception of the FOIA. The Commission found that the municipality had violated the FOIA and ordered it to create minutes of the executive session and disclose any written materials that were disclosed or discussed in the executive session.