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 Legislature restricts sex offender housing

SCHUYLER COUNTY–Housing for some convicted sex offenders will soon be more difficult to find in Schuyler County.

The county legislature Monday approved a local law that prohibits certain sex offenders from living within 500 feet of a camp, a day 

care center, a playground or a school.  The restrictions will apply to those classified as Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders -- those considered at the highest risk to commit additional sex crimes. They will also apply to those convicted of sex crimes but not yet registered.

A first conviction under the new law carries a potential jail term of up to 60 days and a potential fine $250 to $1,500. Second and subsequent convictions can be punished by a fine of up to $2,500 and a jail term of up to one year.

As of Dec. 1, Schuyler County was home to 43 convicted sex offenders, according to the state Department of Criminal Justice Services.  Fifteen of those were classified as Level 2 and four were classified as Level 3.  There were also 19 Level 1 sex offenders in the county and five offenders who had not yet been classified. 

Yates County had 60 resident sex offenders and Steuben County 278, according to the state agency's records.  Legislator Del Bleiler, D-Odessa, told the legislature's Resolutions Review Committee last week that adopting regulations may not have much impact.

"The main point is we are making a statement," Bleiler said.

The restrictions will take effect when the new law is filed with the Secretary of State.  The county lawmakers also approved a new policy that requires property owners facing foreclosure for unpaid taxes to redeem their properties no later than two weeks before a scheduled tax auction.   In the past, the county had allowed some owners to purchase tax-foreclosed properties up until 5 p.m. the day before the auction.

Legislators said the new rules are designed to clarify the redemption procedure, which had not been uniformly applied.

In other action, the legislature:

• Approved a resolution calling for rapid approval of new state legislation and regulations to oversee natural gas drilling and site reclamation.

• Approved increases in fees, effective Jan. 1., for a variety of services provided by the Schuyler County Home Health Agency.

• Authorized Cornell Cooperative Extension to create and maintain a community garden at the Human Services Complex. The food grown there will be provided to the Head Start program.

• Scheduled its final 2008 meeting for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 30 in Conference Room 2B of the county office building and scheduled its 2009 organizational meeting for 9 a.m. Jan. 7 at the same location.

• Accepted bids totaling $195,074 for a variety of equipment for the county's E911 dispatch center, including work stations, a telephone system and two-way radio dispatch consoles.



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