By Jon Bleiweis
- (02/18/2014) Milton postpones sex offender hearing
MILTON - The town's sex offender residency restriction laws state that a sex offender cannot reside within 3,000 feet of a school, park or child care center.
But because of the town's size and the proliferation of schools, parks and child care centers in town, there is no place a sex offender could legally reside in the 1.2-square mile town.
Town Solicitor Seth Thompson said two attorneys have clients who intend to challenge the town's rules, should they remain as is.
As a result, a proposed ordinance would lower the 3,000-foot radius to have areas of town where a sex offenders could live legally.
The public will be able to discuss the proposal in a Feb. 27 public hearing, scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Milton Public Library.
- Of course it's a place ex-offenders cannot go to voice their opinions!
"We want to make sure that the town ordinance can withstand any sort of constitutional challenge," Thompson said. "The difficulty is there as at least one federal case fairly recently that said a town ordinance cannot just completely exclude a class of people from that municipality because that would lead to a domino effect where the next municipality would do the same."
Thompson said Milton's policy differs from the Delaware state code, which uses a 500-foot radius, which does not apply to parks or day care facilities.
"It's not that we're loosening things, so much as making sure we're complying with the law and that this will be enforced so the town's children can be protected," he said.
Mayor Marion Jones said many council members have received emails from constituents concerned about the issue.
"I have found in trying to explain it as being a question of constitutionality that that explanation falls on deaf ears," she said.
Thompson said it would be practical for Town Council to take a proactive approach and change the laws.
"If the ordinance is thrown out, then the argument is you only have the 500 feet from schools that the state code provides for," he said. "So anybody can move in anywhere other than the offenders that are within that state limitation."