Wilton considers sex offender ordinance after learning three offenders live by park

Posted Sept. 19, 2013, at 7:26 a.m.

WILTON, Maine — The Board of Selectmen considered then tabled action on development of a sex offender residency ordinance on Tuesday.

Selectman Tiffany Maiuri proposed asking the Ordinance Committee to draft a such a law.

It recently came to light that there are three sex offenders, who were convicted on felony charges, living across the street from a town park, she said.

Based on an established ordinance from the town of Sebago, adopted in 2010, Maiuri proposed the ordinance to restrict sex offenders, people convicted on a felony charge for committing an offense on a child under age 14, from living within 750 feet from a public or private school or municipal property used by children such as a park, recreational facility or athletic field.

The Sebago ordinance acknowledges its purpose is to protect children because sex offenders who prey on children are at a higher risk of re-offending, Maiuri said.

Those already living near a school or park would be grandfathered, she said. They would not be in violation if they established residency before the town ordinance was enacted.

Board members raised several questions and unanimously decided to seek more information before pursuing an ordinance.

Although he supported the measure, Selectman Tom Saviello cautioned how an ordinance like this can create a “false sense of security.”

“Parents think it’s a safe zone,” he said.

As a landlord, Selectman Paul Berkey questioned how a landlord was suppose to know if a potential renter is a sex offender.

“How are they going to be screened?” he asked. How do landlords protect themselves and would he be discriminating if he asked the person if he or she was a sex offender, he asked.

Board members thought it shouldn’t be up to the landlord or person selling a home.

Selectman Terry Brann wanted police Chief Heidi Wilcox to speak to the board because police would enforce the ordinance.

“There are so many laws on the books that are not being enforced now,” Brann said, and he is hesitant to add another town ordinance.

The board also wanted Town Manager Rhonda Irish to contact the Sebago and ask some of members’ questions, especially those about how the ordinance is enforced.

Later in the meeting, members asked Brann what ordinances were not being enforced. He said parking within the downtown area.

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