By Thomas Celona
The Upper Dublin Board of Commissioners reluctantly repealed an ordinance placing residency restrictions on registered sexual predators at its Nov. 10 meeting.
The board voted to repeal the restrictions it had placed on the books due to court rulings that deemed them unconstitutional.
The commissioners created an ordinance in April 2007 that forbid a sexually violent predator — a person convicted of a sexually violent offense and deemed likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses — from residing within 2,000 feet of a K-12 school, according to Gazette archives.
"The board had worked hard to create that sexual predator ordinance several years ago," board President Robert Pesavento said. "However, there has been court action at the state Supreme Court that invalidated a very similar law."
Alan Flenner, of the High Swartz LLP, who was filling in for township Solicitor Gil High, said a federal court had said there was a problem with how the law was being enacted and turned it over to the state Supreme Court for action.
The state Supreme Court subsequently ruled the practice of local governments restricting housing for sexual predators is unconstitutional, High told the board at its Oct. 11 meeting, when the commissioner first considered repealing the ordinance. The ruling specifically voided an ordinance in Allegheny County similar to the one in Upper Dublin.
The suggestion to repeal the ordinance came from township's insurance company since having it on the books presents a financial liability.
Pesavento said if the board were to keep the ordinance after being told by township staff it was unconstitutional, the commissioners could be individually sued and would not be covered by township insurance.
"This repeal of this ordinance is entered into reluctantly, but I don't believe, nor do I believe any of the other commissioners believe, we have any other choice," board Vice President Ira Tackel said.
The ordinance was repealed by a 6-0 vote. Commissioner Chet Derr was absent. Continued...