Tuesday, February 26, 2013

MA - Proposed Sex Offender Bylaw will not Affect Landlords, Property Sellers

Original Article


By Mary MacDonald

Milford Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin has re-introduced a sex offender bylaw proposal, which would reduce the area they are restricted from working or living in under his original plan.

Adjustments made in the past few weeks to a proposed sex offender restriction bylaw would reduce the area they would be prevented from working or living in in Milford.

In addition, the newly introduced proposal would drop the idea of requiring landlords or property owners from knowing the status of their tenants or buyers.

The revised plan is expected to be discussed Monday night at the Milford Board of Selectmen's meeting.

It more clearly defines which registered sex offenders would be subject to the restrictions, and eliminates some of the restrictions that had been questioned earlier by selectmen.

Milford has 77 people who live or work here who are registered sex offenders. Of those, 59 are classified by the state Sex Offender Registry Board as Level 3 or 2, the most serious.

The bylaw proposal, drafted by Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin and Town Counsel Gerry Moody, would require the sex offenders with the most serious classifications to live at least 250 feet from facilities and spaces including churches, town-run parks, schools, elderly housing facilities, libraries or daycare centers.

In addition, the individuals would be prohibited from loitering for more than 15 minutes within 250 feet of bus stops, facilities for the elderly or people with intellectual disabilities, and other spaces.

Violations would be subject to up to a $300 fine and a criminal complaint.

In an initial review of the original plan, several selectmen had questioned whether the provision requiring landlords and sellers to know whether their tenants or property buyers were registered sex offenders would put too much of a burden on them.

In his overview of the new proposal, O'Loughlin wrote: "Eliminated Section 3F concerned with landlords and people selling their homes. This amendment places the responsibility where it should be, squarely upon the registered sex offender."

The reduction of the proposed restriction area, from 500 feet to 250 feet, was done so to not be overly restrictive, he wrote.

In addition, the proposal now defines the sex offenders subject to restrictions as those who are designated as "sexually violent predator," those who are classified as Level 3 offenders, where a state panel states "the risk of reoffense is high," and Level 2 offenders who were convicted of committing sex offenses on a child, an elderly person or someone with an intellectual disability.

Other than a requirement to register their address with Milford Police when they move into Milford, or obtain a job in Milford, convicted sex offenders are not restricted.

Several communities in Massachusetts have sex offender restriction bylaws, O'Loughlin said, including communities in MetroWest from which sex offenders have relocated to Milford.

In an overview for the meeting tonight, he stated the town had four newly registered sex offenders in 2012, and three each in the three previous years.

Based on his survey of police chiefs in Massachusetts, O'Loughlin reported that of 71 chiefs who responded, 29 towns or cities have a sex offender restriction bylaw, while 40 do not.

Ashland, Bellingham and Marlborough are among the communities that already have sex offender restrictions in place.

Auburn and Tewksbury are proposing bylaws this year.

Because it is a bylaw change, approval of Town Meeting voters would be required.

No comments :