Lower Pottsgrove commissioners say they’re still committed to limiting offender residency
SANATOGA PA – Say goodbye, for now at least, to Lower Pottsgrove Township’s sex offender residency law.
It was officially rescinded Thursday (Nov. 1 2012) and removed from township books – “with regret,” Board of Commissioners’ President Jonathan Spadt claimed – because the state Supreme Court decided a similar law enacted near Pittsburgh contained unenforceable provisions.
The court ruling made it likely Lower Pottsgrove’s ordinance, if ever used, also would be struck down. Better to get rid of it, Solicitor R. Kurtz Holloway advised, than to either pay legal fees for its defense or retain a law that wouldn’t be relied upon by police.
Its dismissal did not go quietly. Two residents, Stephanie Au and Terry O’Neill of the Greens At Sunnyside housing community off Sunnyside Avenue, let commissioners know they considered it valuable but understood the necessity of its repeal. Spadt and other board members pledged to seek other ways to deal with sex offenders’ presence, if any, in the township.
The board directed Police Chief Michael Foltz to work with the Montgomery County Sexual Assault Task Force and the Pottsgrove School District to conduct a local public informational program on sex offenders and offenses sometime in coming months.
- The task force, the Spring-Ford Area School District, and the police departments of Limerick, Royersford and Upper Providence has already scheduled a program to be held Nov. 8 (2012; Thursday) from 7-:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the district’s Ninth Grade Center, 400 S. Lewis Rd., Royersford PA. Titled “Protecting Your Children From Sex Offenders,” it also is free and open to the public. See a brochure about it here.
Lower Pottsgrove’s now former law prohibited registered sex offenders from living in any structure within 1,000 feet of schools, child-care facilities, community centers, public parks or recreational facilities. It was intended to apply to anyone registered in the state’s Megan’s Law database, set up to track the whereabouts of known offenders.
The Pittsburgh area law was even more restrictive. In an unanimous, May 2011 decision, state Supreme Court justices said it would isolate (offenders) in “localized penal colonies” distant from families and old neighborhoods, and potentially interfere with their rehabilitation.
“I don’t agree,” Spadt, himself an attorney, said flatly Thursday. “The state says ‘it’s taken care of’ the problem. It hasn’t.”
Although the law requires registered sex offenders to notify the police department when relocating to a new address, Foltz also urged area residents to keep the department “in the loop” if they noticed suspicious activity or became aware of a registered offender had located near them. “We’ll work with parole officers to monitor the situation,” the chief added.
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