Doran v. Town of Gilmanton, Doc. No. 211-2004-E-035 (Belknap Super. Ct., March 1, 2004) (Perkins, J.)

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This is a Petition requesting public records pursuant to RSA 91-A (the Right to Know law). At the hearing, the plaintiff appeared pro se, and the defendant, Town of Gilmanton, appeared with counsel. The hearing was conducted by offers of proof.

The Court finds as follows:

Kimberly Doran is a property owner in the Town of Gilmanton. On January 22, 2004, she filed a written request with the defendant code enforcement officer requesting a copy of the complaint made against her or, if not a written complaint, a statement that it was oral. She also requested a list of names of property owners as well as the location of the property who had been contacted by mail for code and/or Town violations. The following day, January 23rd, 2004, she requested the information be provided to her before the January 29, 2004 Planning Board meeting. At that time, she met with the code enforcement officer, who told her that there was no written complaint. The [2] code enforcement officer also told her that he would research her other requests and respond appropriately. By a written document dated January 27, 2004, the code enforcement officer provided Ms. Doran with the names of the property owners she requested. However, the response did not set forth the location of the property. The list was given in hand to Ms. Doran on January 27, 2004, who did not indicate at the time that the response was inadequate. She then filed the pending Petition January 28, 2004.

The Town of Gilmanton argues that they complied with her first request by advising her that no written complaint had been filed. Further, that even though they were not required to comply with her second request because it is not required under the Right to Know law, the Town voluntarily agreed to do so, and it was simply an oversight that the code enforcement officer failed to provide information regarding the property location. The Town further argues that if Ms. Doran had simply brought that failure to its attention, the information could have been immediately provided. In fact, that information was Provided to Ms. Doran by the code enforcement officer at the time of this hearing. It did not require the code enforcement officer to research Town records. Finally, the Court is asked to find that Miss Doran's Petition is frivolous and that the Town be awarded [3] attorney's fees.

The Court finds that the Town has acted appropriately, and that the failure to provide the location was an oversight as alleged. Had Ms. Doran brought that to the Town's attention, as the Town suggests, the matter would have immediately been rectified. The Court further finds that there is no obligation to provide a written statement that a document she requested did not exist. The oral confirmation was sufficient. Finally, the Court does not find that this is a sufficiently frivolous action to award attorney's fees, and the Court declines to do so. Petition dismissed.


Date: March 1, 2004    /s/   

Harold W. Perkins

Presiding Justice