By Justin McClelland
LEBANON — Debate continues over a proposed new ordinance to further limit where sex offenders can live inside city limits.
The ordinance, proposed by Councilman Matt Rodriguez, would prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of city parks, playgrounds and libraries. Sex offenders are already restricted by state law from living within 1,000 feet of schools and day care centers.
While no member of council supports sex offenders, debate rages within the council over whether this proposed ordinance will be enforceable, effective or possibly even a negative to the community.
“The legislation is a way to let the city know we have a problem,” said Rodriguez. “And to let sex offenders know they are not welcome in our community.”
There are 203 sex offenders registered in Warren County — 35 live in Lebanon.
Mayor Amy Brewer has come out in opposition to the law, saying it will corral sex offenders into living in select pocket neighborhoods. The corralling, she argued, could deteriorate property values in those areas.
Vice Mayor Jeff Monroe, who earned a doctorate in criminal justice, said that studies on Megan’s Law show the law hasn’t had much effect but that the measure has no negative effects either.
- That depends on what you see as negative. When a person cannot get a job or home, and forced into homelessness and joblessness, that is negative, in my opinion.
“There is no added harm from the law to either the community or people labeled as sex offenders,” said Monroe, who said he’d support the measure. “The law does cause the community to open its eyes about who is living there.”
- That is easy to say when you are not faced with the unconstitutional laws you are passing. You live with the laws for a couple years, then tell me that. Also, see the comments above.
Councilman Gary Heitkamp said he had also studied the law and found it added no additional protection.
“I worry that we are going to imply extra safety that doesn’t exist,” Heitkamp said.
The ordinance is based off an identical measure passed by Deerfield Twp. in September 2008. Township Trustee Chris Romano spearheaded the law’s passage because of concerns he held for the safety of his children.
“It’s sort of an anti-creep law,” Romano said. “If you live across the street from a school, your neighbor ought not to be a sex offender.”
- And if you are in politics, or working for the government, you ought to not be an idiot.
The ordinance is scheduled for a vote at council’s Nov. 23 meeting.