News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, May 29, 2014
Mill Pond Lane property subject of FOAA request

by Faith DeAmbrose

The Blue Hill Board of Selectmen opened their May 23 meeting by going into executive session to discuss the possibility of waiving a fee associated with a Freedom of Access Act request by former Blue Hill resident Dorothy Leighton.

The Freedom of Access Act (FOAA, for short) is a collection of state laws that allows for public inspection of documents. It is similar to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that governs federal documents.

Leighton has asked the town to provide to her all information associated with her court case against the town, which lasted at least three years, and the 8 Mill Pond Lane property in which she was recently evicted for non-payment of taxes.

The selectmen deliberated for a few minutes before calling the meeting back into regular session.

“We do not choose to waive the fee now because we don’t know the magnitude of the request,” said Chairman John Bannister after a 3-0 vote of the board.

The town has turned the request over to its attorney, Diane O’Connell of the Patterson Law Office, who will communicate the denial to Leighton.

The town will, however, comply with the request. According to Selectman Jim Schatz, the selectmen will take all documents from the town office and send them to the attorney who will then compile all documents for Leighton.

As described in statute, the town may charge a fee for copying documents, for searching and compiling documents outlined in the request, or for converting records into appropriate and accessible forms. The law requires that charges estimated in excess of $30 be conveyed to the requester before proceeding and if cost is estimated to be in excess of $100, payment in advance can be requested.