Cushing crafts ordinance to prohibit sex offenders from living near school
Cushing — The ordinance committee has crafted a local statute prohibiting registered sex offenders from living in close proximity to the Cushing Community School.
The committee met Dec. 17 and is circulating the draft within the committee. The five members will meet again on Monday, Jan. 7. to finalize the ordinance and present it to the select board, according to Committee Chairman Eric Anderson.
Select Board Chairman Alton Grover said residents will vote on the ordinance in March at the annual town meeting.
The committee is following state legislation to compose the ordinance. The state defines the maximum distance allowed — 750 feet from property lines — as well as the non-retroactive power of the municipal law.
If a town adopts an ordinance to prohibit an offender from living near property considered to be primarily used by children, also known as a restricted zone, it does just that — prohibits, not relocates, according to state statute.
If an offender is living near the property before the ordinance is accepted, they are free to remain in their home.
A restricted zone is a school, daycare, playground or other property primarily used by children.
In October, Town Attorney Patrick Mellor attended a select board meeting to advise the town.
He said registered offenders are not allowed to have contact with children under the age of 14 in a restricted zone, citing his opinion that although contact can be construed broadly, it would include any form of communication — both verbal and non-verbal. Violation of this statute is a crime, he said.
Only three municipalities in the state have adopted such a law — Sebago, Gorham and Oakland. Grover said the town has reviewed those ordinances to assist efforts in drafting their own.
Mellor had advised the board in October to compose an ordinance. "It shows citizens you're forward-thinking and paying attention," he said.
Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.