The Stephenville City Council approved the addition of a new section to the Code of Ordinances entitled Regulation of Sex Offender Residency Tuesday, making it illegal for certain sexual offenders to reside within 1,000 feet of places where children gather or to loiter within 300 feet around a child safety zone.
A child safety a zone is defined in the ordinance as public parks, private and public schools, amusement arcades, video arcades, indoor and outdoor amusement centers, amusement parks, public or commercial and semi-private swimming pools, child care facility, child care institution, public or private youth soccer or baseball field, crisis center or shelter, skate park or rink, public or private youth center, movie theater, bowling alley, scouting facilities and Offices for Child Protective Services.
Council member Barry Ratliff, chairman of the Public Health and Safety Committee, made the motion to approve the ordinance as proposed, but deleting the section making property owners liable if they knowingly lease or rent property in the restricted area to a sexual offender.
A friendly amendment from Councilman Alan Nash to also delete the “commentary” about sex offenders included in the purpose and intent section of the proposed ordinance was accepted by Ratliff.
Nash questioned whether it was necessary to say that sex offenders may likely repeat an offense and other commentary remarks and suggested that the intent simply state that sex offenders who are required to register present a threat to the health, safety and welfare of children.
After a motion to table the issue and send it back to the Health and Public Safety Committee failed, the council approved the ordinance with the section relating to landlords deleted. A motion to put the section back into the ordinance failed with council members Nancy Hunter and Malcolm Cross casting the dissenting votes.
The council also approved an ordinance amending Chapter 90. “Animals” of the Code of Ordinances to include a section prohibiting an owner or person from displaying from selling, trading, bartering, leasing or giving away any live animal on any roadside, public right-of-way, commercial parking lot or any flea market.
Mayor Pro Tem Todd McEvoy expressed concerns about the section of the ordinance relating to cruel treatment of animals. He said requiring a tether to be at least 10 feet long could cause the animal to become entangled in a yard with multiple trees.
After Chief of Police Roy Halsell and City Attorney Randy Thomas pointed out that the regulations relating to cruelty to animals were in line with state laws, McEvoy said maybe he should be talking to Mr. Miller rather than the council.
The request by Halsell to spend $15,000 of forfeiture funds was also approved by the council — $8,500 for case-making funds and $6,500 to purchase equipment for use in investigations in cases involving illegal narcotics.