Bangor sex offender proposal delayed, resident frustrated by lack of action

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 15, 2010, at 1:39 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Resident Angela Hoy doesn’t understand why the Bangor City Council has yet to vote on her proposal to place residency restrictions on certain registered sex offenders.

Last month, the council agreed to table the proposal pending further study and still has not rescheduled a workshop.

To Hoy, who said she has spent more than $11,000 in legal fees and hundreds of hours of her time to craft the ordinance change, the city’s lack of action is frustrating.

“It seems clear to us that the issue was tabled indefinitely by the council, meaning they have effectively killed all our efforts to protect Bangor’s children from the startling number of convicted sex offenders living here now, as well as the flood of sex offenders moving here,” Hoy said in an e-mail.

Council Chairwoman Susan Hawes, however, said the matter is not dead.

“The city needs to take a stand and have resolution on this matter whether they like our decision or not,” she said. “The people behind this cause deserve that.”

Hawes explained that it made sense to wait until a new council was seated and until a new chairman was selected before the city revisited Hoy’s request. The council chairwoman said she expected a workshop to be scheduled in the coming weeks.

Hoy first brought her idea to the city in July. The amendment as drafted would create 750-foot buffers around schools, parks, playgrounds and other areas where children are the primary users. The change would not apply retroactively, which means sex offenders now living within the restricted zone would not be forced to move. The restrictions also would apply only to offenders who have committed felonies against victims under the age of 14.

Hoy’s initiative mirrors the 750-foot limit that was spelled out by LD 385, a state law passed last year. However, in Bangor, it would make about one-third of the city off-limits to offenders, including a large part of the urban core, where many rental properties are located.

Bangor has more than 200 registered sex offenders living within the city limits, although it’s unclear how many of them have committed felonies on victims under age 14. Offenders are required to register with the state’s online database and are monitored regularly by a Bangor police officer.

Many public safety officials, both locally and at the state level, have said residency restrictions often do more harm than good.

“If I was convinced it would make Bangor safer, I could see supporting this,” Hawes said. “I’m really concerned about profiling.”

Other councilors, including Geoff Gratwick and Pat Blanchette, have said the proposal would result in little more than a feel-good law.

Last month, Cary Weston disagreed with the council’s decision to postpone, calling it an insult to Hoy and the many other supporters who turned out.

Even if the City Council doesn’t vote in her favor, Hoy has said she would consider a petition drive to put a referendum out to Bangor voters.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/11/15/news/bangor/bangor-sex-offender-proposal-delayed-resident-frustrated-by-lack-of-action/ printed on July 30, 2014