PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

September 24, 2013

Nederland: 'Not so fast'

Council sets aside sex offender amendment for review

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

NEDERLAND — The Nederland City Council voted unanimously to suspend an amendment to the city’s ordinance regarding restrictions for sex offenders at a meeting on Monday.

At the Sept. 9 meeting, the council approved Ordinance No. 2013-15, which amended Chapter 74, Article IV of the Code of Ordinances relating to definitions and restrictions on registered sex offenders’ residency.

Under the new ordinance, registered sex offenders in Nederland would be required to post “proper signage” at their residence between 4 and 11 p.m. Oct. 30 and Oct. 31. The signs, which would be maintained and issued by the city’s police department, would read, “Sexual offender residence.”

Other changes would include prohibiting registered sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of premises where children commonly gather — including studios or facilities for instruction in the arts or sports, where classes are taught to four or more children; and private recreational facility parks, which include public pools, playgrounds or youth athletic fields.

Upon closer inspection of the ordinance, however, city manager Chris Duque and city attorney Jesse Branick decided to suspend the ordinance pending further research.

“We both thought it would be prudent to allow greater time for additional research,” Duque said. “I probably should have held off putting it on the last agenda.”

Duque and Branick have 180 days to conduct further research on the amendment and present it to the council, which would then review it and decide how to proceed.

In the meantime, the city’s former ordinance regarding sex offenders remains in place. Adopted in 2006, the ordinance only applied to three types of areas — schools, day care facilities and public parks. There were no rules regarding “proper signage” for Halloween.

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA