By Katie Hoffman
WESTON - Sex offenders now will have more strict regulations to adhere to when looking to make this village their home.
The Weston Village Board unanimously approved Oct. 1 an ordinance to regulate where sex offenders are allowed to live in an effort to create safety zones for children within the community.
Registered sex offenders already are required to register their addresses with police when moving into a municipality, but this ordinance will prevent offenders from living within 250 feet of specific locations, including public parks and pools, movie theaters, day care centers and athletic fields.
The ordinance also will prevent sex offenders from entering those same locations.
Village Administrator Daniel Guild said the goal of the ordinance is to stress the village’s “complete intolerance for sexual violence and assault.”
The ordinance was put into play after an incident at the Weston Aquatic Center on July 3 involving a 22-year-old man and female pool guests. The man was not a registered sex offender, and police said it was an isolated incident, but at Monday’s meeting, Police Chief Wally Sparks said sexual assault is a growing concern in many communities.
“The ordinance sends a message that the Weston community is held to a higher standard,” Sparks said. “Parents and residents want to know they and their kids are living in a safe environment.”
Board member Loren White said the ordinance has been received well by the village’s Public Safety Committee and was discussed with officials at the local Department of Corrections.
“This will, of course, require more work on the corrections side before clients are placed,” White said. “We aren’t intending to throw people out; we just want to raise awareness and protect the places our kids hang out.”
About 120 Wisconsin municipalities already have imposed similar restrictions, including Green Bay and Wrightstown, a village in the northeastern part of the state. Registered sex offenders currently living in Weston within 250 feet of restricted areas will be exempt.
The ordinance will go into effect after it is officially published by the village clerk. Guild estimated publishing will take place in the next two weeks.