City repeals sex offender law
In July, City Attorney John Ottaviano recommended this decision based on the recent overturning of similar local laws throughout New York state because they are more restrictive than the state law. He said courts will not uphold this local law and will not enforce it.
The city adopted this in 2006, stating Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders can not live or be within a 1,000 foot radius of a school, park, nursery school, child care facility or playground.
The state law requires the 1,000 feet restriction pertain only to a Level 3 sex offender who is on probation or parole.
“We don’t have a choice,” said Common Council President Joe Kibler.
At a public hearing before the vote, several residents spoke out in support of keeping the law in place.
“This law is to protect our children,” said one resident. “The most innocent and defenseless people in our community and we need to protect them from the people that do them wrong.”
Other residents encouraged the city to take a stance against the state and keep the law in place.
Mayor Michael Tucker said they agree with the comments from the public and do not want to make this decision, but have to protect the city from potential lawsuits.
“Our hands are tied on this,” said Tucker.
If a sex offender sues the city, Tucker said they will have to give them thousands of dollars.
“I have faith it will get attention in Albany,” Ottaviano said. “People across the state are furious.”
He said municipalities across the state are being forced to repeal their local laws and people are in an “uproar.”
Ottaviano suggested residents who want to do something to fight this, they should start a petition or write letters to the senate.
After repealing Chapter 151 of the code, the council passed a resolution to urge state legislators to work with Sen. George Maziarz and Assemblywoman Jane Corwin to adopt a law that would prohibit Level 2 or Level 3 sex offenders from taking up residency within 1,000 feet of any child centered gathering place, such as a school, park or day car center.
Both Corwin and Maziarz have been leading advocates on strengthening state sex offender residency laws.