Public Meeting Minutes

Section 1-225 of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act requires that votes from public meetings be available within 48 hours and minutes be available within seven days. Minutes of public meetings are important for residents to be able to find out what is going on in their town. They are also important to journalists who do not have enough time to cover local events. In some cases, they become part of important legal discussions.

The Connecticut Siting Council is currently considering an application by AT&T to put a cell tower in Woodbridge. On July 28th, attorney Keith Ainsworth on behalf of the Woodbridge Conservation Commission submitted an application to intervene in the proceedings.

AT&T objected, relying heavily on the minutes of the Woodbridge Conservation Commission, including noting that the June 17th minutes of the Conservation Commission meeting is not yet available. The July 15th minutes are also not yet available.

On Wednesday evening, the Board of Selectmen met to consider a request from the Woodbridge Conservation Commission for the Town to participate in funding for intervener status re Siting Council Docket #388. If a vote were taken, the results of the vote would not be required to be available until this evening at the earliest and the minutes are not required until next Wednesday. Nonetheless, there have been subsequent filings in the docket concerning the meeting.

Part of AT&T’s objection asserts that the Conservation Commission’s Intervention Request is procedurally defective and lacks authority. They refer to the agenda item at the Board of Selectman meeting to consider the Conservation Commissions request saying

We are advised by a member of the public attending the meeting that the Board of Selectmen took no action on the Conservation Commission’s request.

Keith Ainsworth, on behalf of the Conservation Commission replied,

The Conservation Commission was authorized to take action to file the intervention before the Siting Council and expend town funds in doing so by the Board of Selectmen last evening. AT&T represented falsely that selectmen failed to act on the request

AT&T responded

Attorney Ainsworth’s allegations of a misstatement of fact which was conveyed to us by a member of the public is not accompanied by any independently verifiable facts of his own (i.e. based on discussions with the Town’s Board of Selectmen). As such, the Council may want to call the First Selectman directly to ascertain what if any formal action the Board of Selectmen did or did not take last night.

The response continues noting

The request previously submitted by Attorney Ainsworth lacks a resolution from the Conservation Commission adopted by a duly noticed public meeting of its own authorizing such action to seek intervenor status in Docket 388.

Agendas and meeting minutes matter. They are a way to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and this can become very important when the lawyers get involved.

(Cross-posted at The Woodbridge Citizen.)

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