The City Council on Wednesday voted 8-0 to introduce an ordinance restricting registered sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school, park, playground, day care center, sports facility, library, theater, and convenience store.
According to the FBI’s web site, there are currently 61 registered sex offenders living in Hudson County, 41 of them in Jersey City.
City Councilman Michael Sottolano, who represents the Greenville area of the city, sponsored the ordinance to keep sex offenders away, especially from children.
For many years, Sottolano, a former city employee, worked with youth as a baseball coach for local Little League baseball teams and at Hudson Catholic High School.
The ordinance calls for registered sex offenders living in Jersey City to move to a location outside the 2,500-foot boundary within 60 days and to receive a notice if they are within that perimeter.
A maximum penalty of $1,250 and a minimum of $500 will be slapped on those who violate the ordinance.
If passed at the next council meeting on Nov. 21, the ordinance will go into effect within 20 days.
However, such an ordinance has been subject to lawsuits in other states because it meant that there were virtually no places in certain towns where sex offenders could live.
In addition, in Lexington, Ky., a law went into affect saying sex offenders couldn’t live within 1,000 feet of a school or playground. That meant that an 80-year-old man in a nursing home who was convicted of sexually touching a boy in 2001 has to move. The man’s son helped file a lawsuit, along with others affected by that law.
The Jersey City corporation counsel planned to check with the state on the legality of the new ordinance.
“I think it is something that is long overdue, since we have become more aware of certain situations. And I have no problem restricting residency for this,” said Sottolano.
City Councilman Bill Gaughan agreed with Sottolano and called for the ordinance to be sent to the Hudson County Board of Freeholders for them to pass a similar one. City Councilwoman Viola Richardson offered her congratulations to Sottolano on bringing the ordinance to the council’s attention.Abandoned properties
The City Council also on Wednesday introduced an ordinance establishing an abandoned property list and authorizing an officer to identify those properties within the city’s limits.
City Housing Code Enforcement Officer Ed Coleman was designated as the officer in charge of creating the list, which will include block and lot numbers, the street address, owner of property, and reason for designating property as abandoned.
Coleman will submit a report to the city every six months about the status of the properties listed.
The purpose of the list is to help the city identify abandoned properties so that action could be taken on them. Studying area for redevelopment
The council also passed two resolutions – one declaring a part of Newark Avenue as an “area in need of redevelopment” and another allotting $50,000 of city money to pay off liens on a Pacific Avenue home.
The council unanimously passed the resolution pertaining to Newark Avenue, which would call for a section between Newark Avenue and Christopher Columbus Drive from Grove Street to Jersey Avenue to be studied for redevelopment.
Presently, there are several businesses in the designated area, including a McDonald’s, a pizzeria, and a pet and hardware stores.
An area designated for redevelopment can have its zoning changed, and the city can use the power of eminent domain to transform the area.
City Councilman Steven Fulop, who represents the area, said he recently met with business owners and representatives of the Downtown Special Improvement District to discuss upgrading the streetscape on Newark Avenue and bringing in new businesses. Fulop said there are renderings and documents addressing how the area should be redeveloped. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com