February 20, 2013

Bill would close loophole on sex-offender residency ordinances

2-20-2013 Maine:

Rep. Matt Pouliot's proposal would allow towns to include privately held parks in bans

AUGUSTA — A loophole in existing state law that would allow sex offenders to live near the Capitol Area Recreation Association ballfields on the city’s east side is the subject of a new piece of legislation sponsored by Rep. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta.

City Councilor David Rollins contacted Pouliot after the council’s January passage of an ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from living within 750 feet of any municipal property where children are the primary users.

However, the CARA fields are owned by the state and run by an association that leases the land, so under state law, the City Council has no power to limit access to neighborhoods surrounding those ballfields.

“It stuck out like a sore thumb,” Rollins said, noting that the Glenridge Garden Apartments are nearby.

The complex includes baseball, softball and soccer fields. It is used by hundreds of children each year, Rollins said. The association formed in 1974, and the group entered into a lease with the state for the 80 acres between Hospital Street and Cony Road. In 1994 the group got a 99-year lease with the state for the land, which had been managed by the former Augusta Mental Health Institute.

Pouliot is sponsoring L.D. 498 in hope of helping the city expand the January restriction to the playing fields.

“The council in Augusta chose to adopt the most restrictive ordinance allowed by law,” Pouliot said, “but they couldn’t do anything with the CARA fields because of the nuance (in ownership).” ..Source.. by Susan M. Cover

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