Original Article (Video available)
By Matt Howerton
City Council members in Mart will be voting on a new sex offender ordinance Monday night. The town has never adopted a sex offender ordinance before and if passed, this would be the city’s first ever.
The proposed law comes on the heels of a sex offender registration in town. In April residents’ living near the city’s elementary and high schools were notified via postcard that a registered sex offender was residing in the area.
Since Mart currently has no sex offender ordinance whatsoever, the offender only has to comply with state law, which states that a sex offender can’t live within 500 feet of places where children commonly gather only if he or she is on parole or probation.
Offenders can live wherever they want if they aren’t on parole or probation and there is no city ordinance in place.
Since April, council members have been under the gun to adopt a sex offender ordinance.
“I was bombarded with emails and phone calls and that's what made me realize we needed to do something about this pretty quickly," Mart Mayor Pro-tem Henry Witt said.
“I was just as appalled as some of the other members of the city council.”
Witt and other city council members have since drafted a sex offender ordinance for Mart that states registered sex offenders with violations against children 16 and under cannot live within 1000 feet of where children commonly gather.
If passed however, current sex offenders living near child safety zones like schools or parks would be grandfathered into the ordinance and wouldn’t be forced to relocate.
But new offenders coming into the city could be fined each day they live in a prohibited child safety zone.
Mart’s city council meeting starts at 6:30 pm Monday night.