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Home for sex offenders topic of two meetings Black Rock warehouse to be converted

Plans to convert a Black Rock warehouse into one of the area's largest group homes for high-risk sex offenders will be discussed this week at two meetings.

The Common Council is scheduled to vote today on urging the city's Zoning Board of Appeals to block the project planned at 31 Tonawanda St., near Niagara Street.

A public meeting on the proposal will be held at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday in the Northwest Buffalo Community Center, 155 Lawn Ave.

Opponents said they fear the plan to move about 30 Level 3 sex offenders into the two-story structure would saturate the neighborhood with parolees.

"I'm concerned about having 30 convicted sex offenders in one spot," Council Majority Leader Dominic J. Bonifacio Jr. said. "This is a big county -- it's a big state."

But supporters of the project proposed by Saving Grace Ministries dispute claims that it would jeopardize public safety. At a September hearing, the Rev. Terry King told city officials that the parolees would be released under a new state law that mandates lifetime supervision. Their actions would be closely monitored, he stressed.

"Intense supervision proves to be the most effective deterrent," King said.

While the Common Council has no power to block the project on its own, Bonifacio said he expects lawmakers to recommend that zoning officials reject the proposal at a meeting next month. With North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr., Bonifacio is co-sponsoring a resolution that brands the proposal "unacceptable" to the community.

Some residents have pointed out that the facility would be near a bike and hike path, as well as a day care center. Others have expressed fears that housing for registered sex offenders could cause neighborhood property values to decline.


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