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Schenectady County sex offender laws to get another look

Complaints from town officials and the threat of a lawsuit have encouraged Schenectady County legislators to rethink two laws restricting where sex offenders can live.

All 12 legislatures present, including the law's sponsor Ed Kosiur, D-Schenectady, voted to hold two public hearings to discuss the county's local laws at its Tuesday, Aug. 14, meeting.

The public hearings are scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m. The first hearing will address the county's law excluding sex offenders at all levels from living within 2,000 feet of places where children congregate, including public parks, swimming pools, daycares and schools. The legislature is considering amending the law to exclude Level 1 sex offenders and give the local villages, towns and the city more leeway to impose greater restrictions on Level 2 and 3 offenders.

The second hearing will discuss the county's law, which forces convicted sex offenders who currently live within a restricted zone to move by Oct. 1. The legislature introduced a proposal Tuesday to rescind that law.

The laws adopted in June were intended to protect children throughout Schenectady County from convicted sexual predators and to place our community on a level playing field with other counties in the Capital District that have instituted similar restrictions, Chairwoman of the Legislature Susan Savage, D-Niskayuna, said in a statement. "Some concerns were raised from members of the community as a result of the restrictions we instituted. We listened to those concerns and think this proposal addresses many of them while still providing a level of protection to our community."

Communities surrounding Schenectady County have similar restrictions on sex offenders including Rensselear, Saratoga and Albany counties, but all these counties have a grandfather clause for offenders who were living within restricted zones before the laws were enacted.

Town officials in Schenectady County have been speaking against the laws since the Legislature enacted them in June. Town officials fear that sex offenders would move into the rural areas of the county especially in the western areas of Glenville, Rotterdam and Duanesburg.

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