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Sex offender lawsuit mulled

The Town of Colonie has set a public hearing in early August for a law that could limit the number of sex offenders residing in town, and, in the meantime, is gathering information for a possible lawsuit against the state to address its over-concentration of offenders.

Town Attorney Michael Magguilli said the town has requested, under the Freedom of Information Act, information from the state departments of parole, probation and social services to ensure that each sex-offender placement has been looked at in accordance with the law.

Our position is that the state ignores its own statutes and places these people where it is convenient for them to place them, said Magguilli at the Thursday, July 16, Town Board meeting. "What I'm trying to do in preparation for a possible Article 78 is find out what, if anything, they have done to make this analysis as required by statute."

Magguilli's comments came after Lonnie Clar, president of the Coalition of Colonie Neighborhood Associations, said the town should be preparing an Article 78 lawsuit in conjunction with new legislation that would assign sex offenders a system of points and collect licensing fees from hotels, motels and residences that house sex offenders.

Clar said the state law that controls the housing of sex offenders, Chapter 568 of the Laws of 2008, specifically requires both state and the county social services departments and parole boards to specifically determine whether there is a concentration of registered sex offenders in a certain residential area or municipality and determine the number of sex offenders residing at a particular property.

"That requirement, that they look at those two elements when they are placing sex offenders, has obviously not been followed," he said. "It seems to me that, if nothing else you have to bring an Article 78 [lawsuit] to make the state comply with its own law and make the county comply with the law imposed on it by the state. And that should be considered in addition to the legislation."

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