January 29, 2015

Buckingham officials mum as they repeal sex offender law

1-29-2015 Pennsylvania:

The Buckingham supervisors repealed a township ordinance Wednesday night without mentioning what it concerned: sexually violent offenders.

The axed ordinance had established regulations for where sex offenders could reside and how far they had to stay away from schools and places where children congregate.

But the ordinance violated state law. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that local municipalities could not have laws that superseded state regulations regarding sex offenders.

Without mentioning its provisions, the supervisors repealed the law through the approval of a new ordinance that also amended the township’s rules governing the public's use of parks “to eliminate any regulation of the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of the commonwealth.”

Municipalities throughout the state are removing firearm regulations because a new state Act 192 amends the Uniform Firearms Act to allow gun owners or gun organizations the right to sue a municipality if its laws are more regulatory than the state’s gun laws.

The supervisors addressed questions about the reasons for removing the gun regulations but didn’t mention that they were also repealing the ordinance pertaining to sex offenders. In a public notice published Jan. 20 in The Intelligencer, the township stated that it would repeal its ordinance concerning sexually violent offenders “recognizing that the area of legislation is preempted by the Pennsylvania Sentencing and Parole Codes.”

Under Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law, sexual offenders are classified in tiers according to their crimes. Offenders not incarcerated are required to register with the state and must notify the state when they change residence, change their vehicle, telephone or email, among other stipulations. While the law does not restrict where an offender may reside, such a restriction can be imposed on the offender through the court system under the terms of his or her sentencing, probation and/or parole.

Buckingham’s law required offenders to stay at least 2,500 feet away from a school, day care center, camp or other place where children are located as well as to not live in the R-1 residential zone, among other regulations.

On Thursday, township manager Dana Cozza said the issue of removing the township’s sex offender regulation had been discussed at an earlier meeting, but she acknowledged it didn’t come up as the law was being repealed Wednesday night.

“It wasn’t a focus of what we were doing,” she said.

Supervisor Paul Calderaio said the supervisors didn’t try to avoid the topic. The subject of the repealed ordinance just didn’t come up, he said.

“It was mentioned at the last meeting … We’ve talked about it,” Calderaio said.

Calderaio said the ordinance being repealed was a “cleanup” of the Buckingham Code so that the township regulations agree with state law.

At the same meeting, the supervisors authorized the appointment of Hugh Hager to the Sewer and Water Committee for a term expiring in 2018.

They also authorized the purchase of a new Ford F-350 pickup truck with a snowplow and lift gate for $47,187. Cozza said the V-shaped plow and lift gate added approximately $17,000 to the cost of the vehicle.

The supervisors approved the sale of the township's old 2006 pickup truck.

"Aren't they cheaper out of season?" Supervisor Maggie Rash asked about the purchase of the truck with a plow.

"Unfortunately not," Cozza replied. ..Source.. by Peg Quann Staff writer

No comments: