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Is it true that a Township may respond to a request for records under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) by providing a website link/address to responsive records maintained on the Township’s website in lieu of providing physical or electronic copies?

Yes. The FOIA states that “if the FOIA coordinator knows or has reason to know that all or a portion of the requested information is available on its website, the public body shall notify the requestor in its written response that all or a portion of the requested information is available on its website.” The Township must provide a specific webpage link/address where the requested information is available, but only to the degree practicable in the specific instance. If a request is received for all Township Board minutes for the past two years and such minutes are available on the Township’s website, for example, the Township may provide in its response a link to the location on the website where the minutes are stored as opposed to individual links for each separate set of responsive minutes.

Keep in mind that the records provided through this method may not be subject to costs under the FOIA. To the extent only a portion of the request is answered by providing a webpage link/address, the FOIA Coordinator must separate the requested public records that are available on its website from those that are not available on the website and inform the requestor that there may be an additional charge to receive copies of the public records that are available on its website.

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