March 1, 2014

Bingham residents to consider restricting where sex offenders can live

UPDATE 3-4-14: Bingham to restrict registered sex offenders
3-1-2014 Maine:

Proposed ordinance up for vote at Saturday’s Town Meeting would not allow sex offenders to live within 750 feet of a variety of properties.

BINGHAM — Residents at the Town Meeting Monday night will get a chance to weigh in on a proposed ordinance regulating where registered sex offenders can live in Bingham. ...

The proposed registered sex offender ordinance is based on a state model and is designed to ensure that convicted sex offenders not reside within 750 feet of either of Bingham’s two schools, the recreation field behind the Quimby school, the Old Free Meeting House, the summer hut village for children on Murray Street and Chicken Hill, near the old Quimby veneer mill, according to the ordinance.

The target of the ordinance are offenders convicted of class A, B or C sex offenses against children under 14. Under the ordinance, a property owner also would not be allowed to rent or lease a residence to a convicted offender within the restricted area.

Registered offenders who have maintained a residence within the setback zone before a vote approving the ordinance would not be in violation by continuing to live there, nor would a property owner who rents to a registered offender.

There are three registered sex offenders living in Bingham and 21 offenders living within a 15 mile radius of the town, according to the Maine Sex Offender Registry.

The town of Anson is considering a similar ordinance at the Town Meeting on Saturday. Selectmen in the town of Wilton, in Franklin County, rejected a similar proposal in 2012, saying that research showed offenders that commit new sex offenses usually victimize people they know, not random children at the park or a school playground. Wilton selectmen suggested such an ordinance might give people a false sense of security.

Eric Conrad, spokesman for the Maine Municipal Association, said there are dozens of communities in Maine that have laws on the books restricting where a registered sex offender can live.

“A lot of communities have taken those measures — they’re pretty reasonable,” Conrad said. “But legally, you cannot somehow try to restrict them right out of your community. You can’t write a sex offender ordinance in a way that the guy has to move to the neighboring town ... but you can take reasonable steps to keep them a certain distance from schools, ballfields, day cares and things like that.” ... ... ... ..Source.. by Doug Harlow

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