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Colonie's sex-offender population doubles

As town officials continue to examine ways to control Colonie's growing sex-offender population, the number of registered sex offenders in the town has doubled over the past 18 months.

We've gone from having an average of 50 to 60 [sex offenders] to 120 in the last year and a half, said Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider.

Residents fear motel owners in Colonie are looking to expand and make a business out of housing sex offenders at their establishments.

Mary Anne Kowalski is the captain of St. Clare's Neighborhood Watch Group. She and her neighbors live on the western end of town, right off Central Avenue. Kowalski said she and her neighbors have noticed changes to several of the motels that house sex offenders near her home.

"If you drive by on Central Avenue, [an area motel owner] bought the land next to his property and he began clearing it without proper permit, and the rumor is that he's planning on building another motel," she said.

According to Town Supervisor Paula Mahan, the owner of the motel in question, who could not be reached, did complete the proper permitting for clearing his own land, though he has not yet filed with the town's Building Department a notice of intent for what he plans to do on that land.

Kowalski said she fears that if the owner is able to add on to the existing motel, or build a new motel, they will be able to house more sex offenders.

However, if the owner does decide to build another motel on the land, Mahan said, there is not much the town could do.

"I'm not in support of adding on to that type of a building," Mahan said. "But I think, obviously, if they're within their rights and they're within their zones, what could we do?"

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