December 9, 2011

Tullytown repeals sex offender residency law

12-9-2011 Pennsylvania:

To the chagrin of concerned residents, Tullytown council has repealed its local ordinance that restricted where sex offenders could live in the borough.

Council members voted 6-1 to remove the ordinance from the books at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The decision came at the recommendation of borough solicitor Mike Sellers. He pointed out the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last May that a similar ordinance in Allegheny County barring sex offenders from living in certain areas was invalid.

“If we leave it on our books as a law, we would be open to a lawsuit because of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling,” Sellers said. “We have to be in compliance with their decision.”

The local ordinance, enacted in 2005, prohibited sex offenders from moving within 2,500 feet of any school, child care facility, public park or common open space in the borough and set forth other restrictions. Tullytown was the first municipality in Bucks County to restrict where sex offenders could reside.

Some residents disagreed with the council’s vote to repeal Ordinance 139.

“I’m at a loss for some of these rulings that come from the higher courts,” Tullytown resident Holly Kettler said during public comment.

“If we don’t protect ourselves as a local town and government from sex offenders, who will? We were one of the first councils to vote this in and I’d like us to be the last to keep it in effect.”

Council members said that even though the repeal was passed, there are still other safeguards in place against offenders.

“It’s hard for people to understand how a court can strike something like this down,” said borough solicitor Mike Sellers. “But there’s a lot that the state statute still provides for under Megan’s Law. It’s the state’s obligation to follow up with the offender and keep track of them; there’s a relationship between state and local police that protects residents.” ..Source.. by Dan Perez

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