§ 132-6. Inspection, examination and copies of public records.
(a) Every custodian of public records shall permit any record in the custodian's custody to be inspected and examined at reasonable times and under reasonable supervision by any person, and shall, as promptly as possible, furnish copies thereof upon payment of any fees as may be prescribed by law. As used herein, "custodian" does not mean an agency that holds the public records of other agencies solely for purposes of storage or safekeeping or solely to provide data processing.
(a1) A public agency or custodian may satisfy the requirements in subsection (a) of this section by making public records available online in a format that allows a person to view the public record and print or save the public record to obtain a copy. If the public agency or custodian maintains public records online in a format that allows a person to view and print or save the public records to obtain a copy, the public agency or custodian is not required to provide copies to these public records in any other way.
(b) No person requesting to inspect and examine public records, or to obtain copies thereof, shall be required to disclose the purpose or motive for the request.
(c) No request to inspect, examine, or obtain copies of public records shall be denied on the grounds that confidential information is commingled with the requested nonconfidential information. If it is necessary to separate confidential from nonconfidential information in order to permit the inspection, examination, or copying of the public records, the public agency shall bear the cost of such separation.
(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of this section, public records relating to the proposed expansion or location of specific business or industrial projects may be withheld so long as their inspection, examination or copying would frustrate the purpose for which such public records were created; provided, however, that nothing herein shall be construed to permit the withholding of public records relating to general economic development policies or activities. Once the State, a local government, or the specific business has announced a commitment by the business to expand or locate a specific project in this State or the business has made a final decision not to do so, of which the State or local government agency involved with the project knows or should know, the provisions of this subsection allowing public records to be withheld by the agency no longer apply. Once the provisions of this subsection no longer apply, the agency shall disclose as soon as practicable, and within 25 business days, public records requested for the announced project that are not otherwise made confidential by law. An announcement that a business or industrial project has committed to expand or locate in the State shall not require disclosure of local government records relating to the project if the business has not selected a specific location within the State for the project. Once a specific location for the project has been determined, local government records must be disclosed, upon request, in accordance with the provisions of this section. For purposes of this section, "local government records" include records maintained by the State that relate to a local government's efforts to attract the project.
Records relating to the proposed expansion or location of specific business or industrial projects that are in the custody of the Department of Commerce or an entity with which the Department contracts pursuant to G.S. 143B-431.01 shall be treated as follows:
(1) Unless controlled by another subdivision of this subsection, the records may be withheld if their inspection, examination, or copying would frustrate the purpose for which the records were created.
(2) If no discretionary incentives pursuant to Chapter 143B of the General Statutes are requested for a project and if the specific business decides to expand or locate the project in the State, then the records relating to the project shall not be disclosed.
(3) If the specific business has requested discretionary incentives for a project pursuant to Chapter 143B of the General Statutes and if either the business decides not to expand or locate the project in the State or the project does not receive the discretionary incentives, then the only records relating to the project that may be disclosed are the requests for discretionary incentives pursuant to Chapter 143B of the General Statutes and any information submitted to the Department by the contracted entity.
(4) If the specific business receives a discretionary incentive for a project pursuant to Chapter 143B of the General Statutes and the State or the specific business announces a commitment to expand or locate the project in this State, all records requested for the announced project, not otherwise made confidential by law, shall be disclosed as soon as practicable and within 25 days from the date of announcement.
(e) The application of this Chapter is subject to the provisions of Article 1 of Chapter 121 of the General Statutes, the North Carolina Archives and History Act.
(f) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (a1) of this section, the inspection or copying of any public record which, because of its age or condition could be damaged during inspection or copying, may be made subject to reasonable restrictions intended to preserve the particular record. (1935, c. 265, s. 6; 1987, c. 835, s. 1; 1995, c. 388, s. 2; 2005-429, s. 1.1; 2014-18, s. 1.1(c); 2014-115, s. 56.1; 2017-10, s. 2.9(b).)