Earlier this month at the Association of Towns Annual Meeting in New York, a presentation was made on the status of sex offender residency restriction laws at the local government level in New York. As of December 19, 2007, 18 counties, 9 cities, 31 towns and 23 villages had enacted local laws with various restrictions. While many of these laws are aimed at prohibiting registered sex offenders from entering school grounds or other public areas where children are likely to congregate, a number are designed to specifically address residency restrictions. Most residency restrictions contain a distance restriction of 1,000 – 1,500 feet, although some use 500 feet and some use 2,500 feet. The longest distance requirement in effect is one mile (Town of Cicero in Onondaga County). Following the recent George Supreme Court case posted on this blog (http://lawoftheland.wordpress.com/2007/11/27/georgia-supreme-court-find-sex-offender-residency-restriction-an-unconstitutional-taking/), I have received a number of inquiries about what local governments are doing with respect to these types of prohibitions. What follows are select examples from materials presented at the conference. It should be noted that many of these local laws were enacted before the Georgia decision and may not fully consider how these laws would or should be enforced when the child-centered uses are created after the sex offender is already residing at a particular location.
Albany County prohibits registered sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of a public or nonpublic elementary or secondary school or child care facility. Broome County’s law prohibits registered sex offenders from maintaining a residence, either permanently or temporarily, within 1,000 feet of any school grounds, and facility or institution primarily used for the care or treatment of persons under the age of 18 or public park. The Town of Chenango, located in the County, also adopted this language. The Village of Franklinville in Cattaraugus County provides that sex offenders shall not newly occupy any real property, acquire any real property by lease or otherwise or establish a place of lodging within ¼ mile of a school, daycare center or playground, park or school grounds. The City of Dunkirk in Chautauqua County prohibits registered level 2 and 3 sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of a public or private school, a nursery school, pre-school, child care facility, playground or park. The Town of Amherst in Erie County has a similar law. The Village of Depew and the Town of Aurora in Erie County use 1,500 feet rather than 1,000 feet as the measure of distance for residency restrictions. The Town of Lancaster, also in Erie County, 1,500 is used for the residency restriction and in addition to schools listed above, it prohibits sex offenders from residing near teen clubs, ten centers, Boy & Girls Clubs, YMCA facilities, town parks and playgrounds and any other structure or open space where minors congregate for sponsored, programmed activities and any community centers where minor congregate. Restrictions in the Town of Cheektowaga and the Village of Sloan include dance halls and skating rinks, and the Town of Elma chose to use 2,000 for their distance requirement. The Towns of Brandt and Eden as well as the Village of Blasdell add a prohibition on residency within 1,500 feet of a church which operates any child or youth centered program, and the Town of Hamburg restricts residency within 1,500 feet of swimming pools. The Village of East Rockaway in Nassau County prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of ay school, place of worship, child day-care center, community center, public library, public park, playground and other recreational facility as well as another registered sex offender. The Village of Waterloo in Seneca County adds a residency restriction near land operated as a camp. A number of the local laws also prohibit registered sex offenders from maintaining employment within 1,000 feet of specified areas where children are likely to congregate (see for example Rockland and Saratoga County laws).
The outstanding (and more detailed) compilation of local laws was put together by Corey Auerbach, Esq. of the Association of Towns and Lorraine Felegy, Esq. of the Office of Sex Offender Management at the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services.