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New York News

NY Counties Enact Sex Offender Residency Laws

By Dave Lucas

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-898553.mp3

Albany, NY – This month several upstate New York towns have followed the example set by the town of Colonie, in passing local laws governing how many sex offenders can live in a motel. Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

Last August Colonie was forced to deal with a large number of sex offenders moving into small hotels and motels. The majority of the men came from Albany after passage of a strict law there which banned them from residing within 1-thousand feet of schools, day care centers, playgrounds - essentially any areas children might find attractive. The law was overturned in court, but the sex offenders had settled in the town, which passed a law requring hotel owners to pay for a license to house sex offenders. Other towns took note: Lake Luzerne passed similar legislation in February, and this month the towns of Lake George and Queensbury did the same. Ronald Montesi,councilman and town board member for Queensbury, says there was no opposition to the measure at a public hearing conducted prior to its becoming law.

The town of Lake George passed its own sex offender law on April 12th although NO sex offenders live there. Albany Attorney Terry Kindlon says laws governing where sex offenders can live have many, many grey areas. A western New York case in the Town of Niagara, where residency restrictions prohibit sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet from a school or playground, caused a man to move from the town. Kindlon notes tough restrictions have been succesfully challenged in many places, including Schenectady. County laws have also been invalidated by the courts in Albany, Rensselaer and Washington counties. Kindlon says that although we should keep an eye on sex offenders, we should remember that "sex offenders are people too."