“The time period for responding to a Right-to-Know request is absolute”

ATV Watch is a citizen group formed to monitor government decisions about the use of park land for all-terrain vehicles in New Hampshire and surrounding states.

Hearing that the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development planned to add a 7200-acre ATV park at Jericho Lake, they filed an open records request.

As ATV Watch Director Andrew Walters noted, he wanted:

…to evaluate the agency’s actions and the land’s suitability for ATVs so he could discuss those issues with elected officials.

Time is often of the essence–certainly with respect to land purchase and preservation.

Nevertheless, the New Hampshire DRED dilly-dallied around with the open records request. The records were requested in November 2004. Some records were received in January 2005, some in March 2005 and some in October 2005.

According to New Hampshire law, the agency should have provided all the records within 5 days.

That standard has now been firmly upheld by the state’s Supreme Court.

Although this vindicates the ATV group, and will help other groups in the future who seek records, ATV Watch will never get back the time it had to spend pursuing this matter–time the group would normally have devoted to promoting its main mission.

HT: The FOIA Blog.

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