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Law adopted to restrict sex offenders

The Town of Lancaster on Tuesday joined Depew and Cheektowaga among municipalities that can legally restrict where convicted sex offenders live in their communities.

After a brief public hearing, the Town Board adopted a local law prohibiting those who must register as sex offenders under the state's Megan's Law from residing within 1,500 feet of a school, youth facility or any other place where young people congregate for programmed activities in the town.

As in Depew, which adopted a similar law two weeks ago, Lancaster's local law carries a $1,500 fine or 15 days' imprisonment, or both.

Before the Town Board adopted the law, Councilman Mark Montour suggested board members consider making the penalties for violators even more stringent. Montour noted, however, that judges would still have the discretion to impose penalties that are either less stringent or harsher than what the town's local law provides.

Town Attorney Richard Sherwood said the state's penal law does not allow the town to impose a prison sentence beyond 15 days for violators. Sherwood noted that it does not prevent the town's police from citing violators for every day that they're in violation of the law. However, he said, the town's local law doesn't have to specify that or it could increase the chances that the law could be challenged on constitutional grounds.

Daniel Beutler, of Tyler Street, said he hoped that the Town Board in the future would consider seeking harsher penalties, if they are warranted.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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