Byline: Elaine Thompson
MARLBORO - City councilors approved a sex offender residency ordinance last night by a 6-5 vote, but will have to vote on it again at their next meeting because some councilors objected to its passage in one night.
The City Council in December passed an ordinance prohibiting Levels 2 and 3 sex offenders from living or loitering within 2,500 feet of schools and other youth facilities. Mayor Nancy E. Stevens vetoed the ordinance after expressing concerns about its constitutionality. Ronal C. Madnick, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Worcester County Chapter, called the measure unconstitutional because it would have banned sex offenders from living in 97 percent of the city.
The new ordinance, drafted by a special committee established by the mayor, reduced the predator-free zone to 1,000 feet. The ordinance also comes with a list of 235 places in the city that Levels 2 and 3 sex offenders cannot live or visit. Among them are Solomon Pond Mall, Marlboro Country Club, the Assabet River Rail Trail, Marlboro Airport and the local beach. Sex offenders who established permanent residency within 1,000 feet of protected areas prior to the ordinance would not have to move.
Councilors-at-Large Patricia Pope and Michael Ossing, who oppose the ordinance, said adding the mall to the restricted list is unreasonable and unenforceable.
"The mall is in two communities. Are we going to draw a stripe down the middle of the mall and say sex offenders can shop in the Berlin side of the mall and not in Marlboro?" Mrs. Pope asked.
Councilor-at-Large Steven Levy, who drafted the original proposal, said the law would help protect victims such as his best childhood friend who was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a stranger in Revere in 1974.
"People who are deemed to pose a continued risk to our society, it makes sense to keep them as far apart from victims," Mr. Levy said. "The state law is silent. But we don't have to be silent in Marlboro."
Ward 3 Councilor Scott Schafer, another opponent, said the law would...