|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
September 27, 1999
Ms. Bonnie Lee Goldstein
Dear Ms. Goldstein:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 128283.
The City of McKinney (the "city"), which you represent, received a request for
1. A computer list of the Capital Improvements Projects that require right-of-way acquisition and a copy of the thoroughfare plan that reflects all projects planned for the future.
2. Each and every Landowner's name, corresponding address, and corresponding parcel number for every property that will be acquired by the City of McKinney, in part or in whole, for each of the City of McKinney Projects that are listed above.
You have released item 1 to the requestor. You argue that the remaining requested information is excepted from disclosure by section 552.105 of the Government Code. You have submitted a representative sample of the information that you seek to withhold. (1)
Section 552.105 excepts from disclosure information relating to:
(1) the location of real or personal property for a public purpose prior to public announcement of the project; or
(2) appraisals or purchase price of real or personal property for a public purpose prior to the formal award of contracts for the property.
Section 552.105 is designed to protect a governmental body's planning and negotiating position with regard to particular transactions. Open Records Decision Nos. 564 (1990), 357 (1982), 310 (1982). Information excepted under section 552.105 that pertains to such negotiations may be excepted so long as the transaction is not complete. Open Records Decision No. 310 (1982). Because this exception extends to "information pertaining to" the location, appraisals, and purchase price of property, it may protect more than a specific appraisal report prepared for a specific piece of property. Open Records Decision No. 564 at 2 (1990). For example, this office has concluded that appraisal information about parcels of land acquired in advance of others to be acquired for the same project could be withheld where this information would harm the governmental body's negotiating position with respect to the remaining parcels. Id. A governmental body may withhold information "which, if released, would impair or tend to impair [its] 'planning and negotiating position in regard to particular transactions.'" Open Records Decision No. 357 at 3 (1982) (quoting Open Records Decision No. 222 (1979)). When a governmental body has made a good faith determination that the release of information would damage its negotiating position with respect to the acquisition of property, the attorney general will accept that determination unless the records or other information show the contrary as a matter of law. Open Records Decision No. 564 (1990).
First you state that
the City does not have the underlying documentation that reveals ownership of property that might be affected by the conceptual plan. That information is not acquired by the City until it reaches the stage of negotiation when the design of the project is finalized. When the City determines the final alignment of the future roadway, it will then obtain information, including ownership f the affected properties.
However, you have submitted information that may be responsive to request item 2. You explain that "[a]ny plans to acquire certain, specific property or rights-of-way are still in the planning and negotiation stage." Moreover, you assert that disclosure of the requested information "would negatively affect the City's planning and negotiation position as to the affected properties." After examining your arguments and the information you have submitted, we find that section 552.105 is applicable in this instance. You may withhold the submitted information under section 552.105.
We are resolving this matter with an informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and should not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.
Ref: ID# 128283
Encl: Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Mark Heidenheimer, P.L.L.C.
1. We assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos. 499 (1988), 497 (1988). This open records letter does not reach, and therefore does not authorize the withholding of, any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than that submitted to this office.
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