Changes possible after successful challenges elsewhere

By Jason Arndt

After a registered sex offender successfully challenged an ordinance in the Village of Pleasant Prairie, and with contests in other municipalities, the Village of Twin Lakes could makes changes to its ordinance.

In the case of Pleasant Prairie, where the municipality had a 3,000-feet buzzer zone, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the ordinance was too restrictive after it determined the rule made residence for sex offenders nearly impossible.

“You have to allow some area of the village for sex offenders to reside,” Twin Lakes Village Attorney Elaine Ekes at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Under the previous Pleasant Prairie ordinance, the village only had 10 percent available for sex offenders to reside, and most of the area was limited to commercial or industrial developments.

Consequently, the Village of Twin Lakes could be forced to reduce its buffer zone, which is set at 1,200-feet from protected locations, like day care centers, schools and places of worship.
Ekes said the current village ordinance allows up to 57 percent of municipal property available for sex offenders.

To avoid potential litigation, however, Ekes recommends reducing the buffer zone to 1,000 or 750 feet, depending on village direction.

“Some of the communities are dropping down to 500 feet,” said Ekes, who suggests at least 60 percent of property be made available.

If the buffer zone is reduced to 1,000 feet, about 62 percent will be available, and for 750 feet, nearly 69 percent.

Ekes, however, said the available space might see a reduction after the village adds more protected locations, which were not included in the proposed maps submitted to the board on Monday.

“We have beefed up the provisions of these protected locations,” Ekes.

Although litigation is possible under the current ordinance, trustees were hesitant to reduce the buffer zone, like Barb Andres.

Andres said the village should place a higher priority on the safety its residents, instead of protecting against potential legal challenges.

For Aaron Karow, he suggests maintaining the 1,200 buffer zone until the village adds more protected locations to the maps presented before the board.

Additionally, the village also discussed creating a structured appeals process for sex offenders looking to reside in the village, which could create a three-person citizen panel appointed by the board.


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