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Sex offender residency ordinance advances

Committee debate centers on distance

Aug. 21, 2008

Registered sex offenders could soon have fewer options when it comes to finding a place to live in Greendale.

The Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee on Aug. 19 voted to recommend that the Village Board adopt an ordinance establishing limits on where registered sex offenders would be allowed to live.

The ordinance would restrict sex offenders from residing in or entering established safety zones within 750 feet of schools, public parks, park facilities, park pathways or daycares, Village Manager Todd Michaels said.

The village began considering an ordinance last fall, but chose to hold action until the legality of Franklin’s sex offender ordinance was upheld, Michaels said. Staff examined similar ordinances in several communities, and modeled its draft ordinance on one that the village of Elm Grove enacted.

Recidivism likely for some

Police Chief Robert Dams has said that an ordinance is particularly necessary to protect children, due to data that suggests sex offenders whose victims were children have a high rate of recidivism.

Officials agreed that having an ordinance in place would be better than not having one at all, but debated whether 750 feet is a great enough distance from safety zones to protect children, or if a distance of 1,000 feet should be considered.

“Seven hundred-fifty feet to me isn’t all that far. That’s basically two-and-a-half football fields,” Trustee Ronald Barbian said. “And if we’re trying to protect children … I would rather see this at 1,000 or 1,200 feet.”

Michaels said staff considered safety zones ranging from 500 to 1,000 feet. They determined that 500 feet was definitely not restrictive enough, but, because of the small area and unique layout of the village, that 1,000 feet might be too restrictive.

However, based on maps that show which residence areas would prohibit registered sex offenders, increasing the distance to 1,000 feet would not have a huge impact, he said.

Board can set limit

The ordinance is set to go before the Village Board on Tuesday, Sept. 2, at which time officials could choose to increase the prohibited distance to 1,000 feet, Michaels said. If approved, the ordinance would take full effect after passage and publication.

Currently there are six or seven sex offenders living in Greendale, Dams said. Those individuals would be allowed to remain in their areas of residence if the ordinance is approved, but any future registered sex offenders moving to the village would be required to follow the restrictions.

Julie Becker can be reached at (262) 446-6606.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: Village Board meeting

WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2

WHERE: Village Hall, 6500 Northway

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