Colonie panel eyes sex offender limits

The Town of Colonie is considering a local law restricting registered sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet of one another. Before the law is passed, though, the town will have a task force examine the proposal.

The Colonie Town Board voted Thursday, Feb. 12, to create the task force. The proposed law would not only restrict how far a registered sex offender can live from another, but also further restrict how far one can live from areas in which children gather.

According to the New York State Sex Offender Registry, there are about 370 registered sex offenders in Albany County. There are about 110 registered sex offenders in the Town of Colonie alone, according to Director of Town Operations Peter Gannon, many of whom reside in hotels in the western part of the town. Gannon also said there are smaller pockets where groups of registered sex offenders live throughout the town.

The western part of Colonie is also Albany County Legislator Christine Benedict's , R, C, I-Colonie, district.

Benedict said she began working on the issue about two years ago when it began to come to light that a number of registered sex offenders lived in hotels in her district. Benedict said that realization led her to research how many sex offenders were living within proximity to families in her area.

She found five Central Avenue hotels were responsible for housing many of Colonie's registered sex offenders.

[These] motels are deplorable and have changed the character of the neighborhood on the west end of town, Benedict said.

If Benedict's research is correct, and the bill Colonie hopes to pass becomes law, the registered sex offenders residing in those hotels would be forced to move 1,500 feet from one another.

According to Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan, the taskforce will include her and four other people: Benedict, Albany County Legislator Phil Steck, D-Colonie; and two members of the Colonie Town Board, who have yet to be determined. Originally, Albany County Legislator Tim Nichols, D-Latham, agreed to be a part of the taskforce, but has since decided not to take part.

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