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Whitefish Bay sets sex offender limits

Aug. 6, 2014

Whitefish Bay — In the wake of the Milwaukee Common Council passing sex offender residency restrictions, Whitefish Bay trustees have adopted an ordinance restricting sex offenders from living within 1,750 feet of schools, parks and other places where children congregate.

The board's action was prompted by the Milwaukee Common Council's recent vote to prohibit sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school, park, or place where children congregate. The ordinance would severely limit where sex offenders can live within Milwaukee, which is home to more than 85 percent of the county's sex offenders.

On Monday night, Whitefish Bay became the first of four Milwaukee County communities without a sex offender residency restriction to adopt such an ordinance. Now that Whitefish Bay has led the way, River Hills and Shorewood seem likely to follow suit. Hales Corners is the other Milwaukee County community without residency restrictions.

River Hills trustees considered a potential residency restriction on July 16, and tabled the matter until they could see a map detailing the impact of various distance requirements. Shorewood's Public Safety Committee will discuss residency restrictions before the Village Board meeting on Sept. 15.

After first considering a 1,000-foot restriction during its June meeting, Whitefish Bay trustees spent some time Monday, Aug. 4, looking at different distance restrictions before settling at 1,750 feet. Municipalities are legally required to provide some areas of available housing, and trustees decided the 1,750-foot restriction was as aggressive as they could go without risking a legal challenge.

The 1,750-foot child safety zones would leave a small area available for sex offenders in the far southeastern corner of the village — east of Bartlett Avenue and roughly south of Hampton Avenue. A sliver of an area would also be available near Santa Monica Boulevard and Fairmount Avenue. The areas are approximate because they are defined by overlapping circles.

Village Trustee Jay Miller was one of the trustees pushing for a 1,750-foot residency restriction.

"I don't like the fact that each village, city or municipality is doing this on a piecemeal basis," he said. "There ought to be a more overarching policy, but this is where we are, so we have to act in the best interest of the citizens here."

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