[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town of Lancaster as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 10-28-2013 STM by Art. 9]
It is the intent of this bylaw to protect the Town’s interest to promote and protect the public health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the Town of Lancaster by creating areas around locales where children and the elderly regularly congregate and wherein certain sex offenders are prohibited from establishing temporary or permanent residence.
It is determined that this bylaw is the most narrowly crafted means of restricting to the fullest extent possible the opportunity for registered sex offenders to approach or interact with children and the elderly where they routinely and naturally congregate and that the protections of the health and safety of our children is a compelling public and governmental interest.
This bylaw is intended to create a civil nonpunitive regulatory scheme in order to protect children and the elderly to the greatest extent possible under the circumstances of public welfare protections and not as a punitive measure of any kind.
Registered sex offenders pose a clear threat to children and the elderly as vulnerable groups residing in or visiting the Town. Because registered sex offenders are more likely than any other type of offender to re-offend for another sexual offense, the Town desires to impose safety precautions in furthering the public purpose of protecting these groups. The purpose of this bylaw is to mitigate the potential risk of harm to children and the elderly of the Lancaster community by deterring the ability for registered sex offenders to be in contact with unsuspecting individuals in locations that are primarily utilized by such groups. The Town desires to add location restrictions on such offenders where state law is silent.
- DAY-CARE CENTER
- An establishment, whether public or private, which provides care for children and is registered with and licensed pursuant to the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by the Office of Child Care Services.
- ELDERLY HOUSING FACILITY
- A building or buildings on the same lot containing four or more dwelling units restricted to occupancy by households having one or more members 55 years of age or older.
- ESTABLISHING A RESIDENCE
- To set up or bring into being a dwelling place or an abode where a person sleeps, which may include more than one location, and may be mobile or transitory, or by means of purchasing real property or entering into a lease or rental agreement for real property (including a renewal or extension of a prior agreement whether through written execution or automatic renewal).
- Public land designated for active or passive recreational or athletic use by the Town of Lancaster, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or other governmental subdivision, and located within the Town of Lancaster.
- PERMANENT RESIDENCE
- A place where a person lives, abides, lodges, or resides for five or more consecutive days or 14 or more days in the aggregate during any calendar year.
- PLACE OF WORSHIP
- A structure used for religious worship or religious education purposes on land owned by, or held in trust for the use of, any religious organization.
- Any public or private educational facility that provides services to children in grades Kindergarten – 12.
- SEX OFFENDER
- A person who resides, works or attends an institution of higher learning in the commonwealth and who has been convicted of a sex offense or who has been adjudicated as a youthful offender or as a delinquent juvenile by reason of a sex offense or a person released from incarceration or parole or probation supervision or custody with the Department of Youth Services for such a conviction or adjudication or a person who has been adjudicated a sexually dangerous person under MGL c. 123A, § 14, as in force at the time of adjudication, or a person released from civil commitment pursuant to Section 9 of said Chapter 123A, whichever last occurs, on or after August 1, 1981.
- SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY
- The collected information and data that is received by the criminal history systems board pursuant to Sections 178C to 178P, inclusive, as such information and data is modified or amended by the sex offender registry board or a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to said Sections 178C to 178P, inclusive.
- TEMPORARY RESIDENCE
- A place where a person lives, abides, lodges, or resides for a period of less than five consecutive days or 14 days in the aggregate during any calendar year, which is not the person's permanent address or place where the person routinely lives, abides, lodges, or resides and which is not the person's permanent residence.
It is unlawful for any sex offender who is finally classified as a Level 2 or 3 offender pursuant to the guidelines of the Sex Offender Registry Board to establish a permanent residence within 2,000 feet of any school, day-care center, park, elderly housing facility or place of worship, if, after notice and a hearing before the Police Chief and/or his designee, the Police Chief and/or his designee determines that the sex offender poses a risk to the public and, therefore, residency should be limited in accordance with this section.
For purposes of determining the minimum distance separation, the requirement shall be measured by following a straight line from the outer property line of the permanent residence to the nearest outer property line of a school, day-care center or park, elderly housing facility or place of worship.
Notice to move. Any registered Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender who establishes a permanent residence within 2,000 feet of any school, day-care center, park, elderly housing facility or place of worship shall be in violation of this section and shall, within 30 days of receipt of written notice of the sex offender's noncompliance with this chapter, move from said location to a new location, but said location may not be within 2,000 feet of any school, day-care center, park, elderly housing facility or place of worship. It shall constitute a separate violation for each day beyond the 30 days the sex offender continues to reside within 2,000 feet of any school, day-care center, park, elderly housing facility or place of worship. Furthermore, it shall be a separate violation each day that a sex offender shall move from one location in the Town of Lancaster to another that is within 2,000 feet of any school, day-care center, park, elderly housing facility or place of worship.
Penalties. Violation of this bylaw, or of any regulations adopted hereunder, may be enforced through any lawful means in law or in equity by the Board of Selectmen, the Town Administrator, or their duly authorized agents, or any police officer of the Town of Lancaster, including, but not limited to, enforcement by noncriminal disposition pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 21D. Each day a violation exists shall constitute a separate violation. The penalties shall be as follows:
First offense: notification to offender that he/she has 30 days to move, if, after notice and a hearing before the Police Chief and/or his designee, the Police Chief and/or his designee determines that the sex offender poses a risk to the public and, therefore, residency should be limited in accordance with this bylaw.
Subsequent offense: This shall apply to any offender served or supplied with a notification of a first offense and a hearing that has failed to comply with all requirements of the notification within the thirty-day period. Noncriminal fine pursuant to Article XXV of the General Bylaws and notification to the offender’s landlord, parole officer and/or probation officer and the Commonwealth’s Sex Offender Registry Board that the person has violated a municipal ordinance.
Exceptions. A person residing within 2,000 feet of any school, day-care center, park, playground, elderly housing facility or place of worship does not commit a violation of this section if any of the following apply:
The person established the permanent residence and reported and registered the residence prior to the effective date of this bylaw.
The person was a minor when he/she committed the offense and was not convicted as an adult.
The person is a minor.
The school, day-care center, park, elderly housing facility or place of worship within 2,000 feet of the personal permanent residence was established after the person established the permanent residence and reported and registered the residence pursuant to the Sex Offender Registry Law.
The person is required to serve a sentence at a jail, prison, juvenile facility, or other correctional institution or facility.
The person is admitted to and/or subject to an order of commitment at a public or private facility for the care and treatment of mentally ill persons pursuant to MGL c. 123.
The person is a mentally ill person subject to guardianship pursuant to MGL c. 201, § 6 or a mentally retarded person subject to guardianship pursuant to MGL c. 201, § 6A, residing with his or her guardian or residing within a group residence that is professionally staffed and supervised 24 hours a day.