Putting more restrictions into a proposed sex offender ordinance instead of merely creating a feel-good piece of legislation is the hope of Canal Winchester minister Charles Williams.
During a presentation at Canal Winchester Village Council’s Aug. 20 meeting, Williams said he wants to see an ordinance containing more specific language, particularly regarding residency of sexual offenders.
The ordinance council is considering would ban sexual offenders from living within 1,000 feet of any public/private schools, daycare, preschool, village-owned public park, playground, library, or public swimming pool. The ordinance is modeled after one created by Hilliard.
"I would like to see an ordinance passed that has teeth in it," said Williams. "So many (municipalities) have passed ordinances that have no teeth in them. I would hope you would really, really put teeth with this instead of having a feel-good motion passed here. Residency seems to be a very big loophole. Whenever an event, such as a child abduction takes place, it’s generally not within 1,500 feet of where the offender lives. These ordinances make people feel good, but are our children any safer?"
Councilman Bruce Jarvis suggested increasing the distance to 1,500 feet and extending the language to include private parks. Attorney Mike Close, filling in for Law Director Gene Hollins, said the 1,500 foot limit was possible, but enters an area untested in the courts.
"We can say with some certainty 1,000 feet would stand," replied Close. "One thousand feet is safe; 1,500 leaves some places in the city where they can occupy some residences. We know 1,000 feet would be alright. We don’t know if 1,500 feet would be. This is enforceable by injunction. There are a number of different sexually oriented offender registrations and registration is dependent on the seriousness of the offense."
When asked about limiting an offender’s workplace to the same distance as their residency, Close said, when it comes to enforcement, the burden is placed on the employer and enforcement becomes a nightmare. He also said he did not read the ordinance as prohibiting an offender from stopping by a friend’s house if the friend lives inside the 1,000-foot zone, as long as residency is not involved.
"The bottom line with this is it is not going to be perfect institution," added Jarvis. "It’s not going to be failsafe."
The ordinance was sent back in order to make small adjustments, expand the perimeter, and apply language to include public and private parks.
Branding Canal Winchester with a common logo and tagline again came under fire, with residents, council, and business representatives lining up on both sides of the issue. Chamber of Commerce representative Lisa Dean said, as a marketing tool, having one logo is better than multiple images and the chamber now uses the stylized depot image with the tagline "Our business is business."
Councilman Steve Donahue said he had heard comments from people who do not understand why the village wants to change the logo to one not incorporating a canal image. Resident Tony Note suggested the logo and tagline reflect the village’s long-standing history. However, Council President John Bender said he likes the new graphic.
"I like the design," commented Bender. "I like the train station. We have a great history here. We’ll always have canal in our name. We’re not compelling every group to use the logo."