The Colonie Town Board voted unanimously Thursday, Aug. 6, to approve a law that would require motels that house sex offenders to pay an annual licensing fee and restrict the number of sex offenders that can live in the same hotel or motel.
The fee associated with the license depends on the number of units at the establishment. For an establishment with 50 units or fewer, the licensing fee would be $1,500 per year, and for an establishment with 51 or more units, the fee would be $3,000 per year.
Town Attorney Michael Magguilli said the fees for the license are only a fraction of what the hotel and motel owners who make a business out of taking in sex offenders make in one month, with Albany County paying $45 per day for each registered sex offender living at the establishments.
The second part of the law limits the number of sex offenders that can live at each establishment based on a point system. Sex offenders are assigned points based on the level of their offenses, with a Level 1 sex offender having one assigned point; a Level 2, two points; and a Level 3, three points.
An establishment that has 50 or fewer units would be allowed to house six points worth of sex offenders in any combination. An establishment with 51 or more units is permitted to have nine points.
Town officials had been looking into enacting a more defined sex offender law as the sex offender population in Colonie doubled to more than 150 in the past 18 months.
They were also looking for a way to limit the over concentration of sex offenders in the western part of town, primarily on Central Avenue.
Only one person spoke in opposition of the law to the nearly ten all hailing from the same neighborhood right near the hotels who spoke in favor of it. Melanie Trimble, chapter director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the law could force many sex offenders "go off the radar" and not register. She also said that by spreading the sex offenders out, they can be more likely to commit dangerous crimes.