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By David Riley/Daily News staff
MetroWest Daily News
Posted Nov 07, 2008 @ 01:10 AM
Last update Nov 07, 2008 @ 01:12 AM


Police Chief Scott Rohmer is looking at a proposal to prevent registered sex offenders from living near schools, day care centers and other places where children gather.
Rohmer had submitted an article for the Nov. 19 Town Meeting, modeled after a bylaw adopted earlier this year in neighboring Southborough.
He since withdrew the measure to allow the town counsel and other local officials more time to look over the idea. Rohmer said yesterday he hopes to bring it up for a vote at Town Meeting next spring.
No particular incident spurred the measure, Rohmer said, but sex offenders have long been a worry for local parents.
"We don't have any specific concern. We're being prudent," Rohmer said. "We're being proactive, looking at what other communities are doing."
Like Southborough's bylaw, Rohmer sought to prohibit Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, day care facilities, parks, recreation facilities, housing for the elderly and other areas frequented by children, seniors or people with disabilities.
The state Sex Offender Registry Board deems Level 2 and 3 offenders at greatest risk of committing another crime.
Southborough's rules came after Marlborough enacted its own restrictions last year, and a growing number of communities have sought similar limits, including Wayland. Some towns and cities also prohibit sex offenders from loitering within 500 feet of certain areas.
A grandfathering clause would allow offenders who already live in the town to stay in their current homes, Rohmer said.
There are 13 Level 2 offenders and three Level 3 offenders who live or work in town, he said.
The chief said the suggestion for a sex offender bylaw in Ashland originally came to him from Town Clerk Tara Ward. "She, being proactive, brought it to my attention," he said.
Ward began researching the topic after an upset mother came to her office after stumbling upon information posted at Town Hall on sex offenders in Ashland.
"She just said, 'I don't understand. Why are they here?"' Ward said. "To me, it was important because of that woman."
The town clerk told the woman how to go to the Police Department and find out if sex offenders live near her home. Afterward, Ward came across Southborough's bylaw and passed the information along to Rohmer.
"Why reinvent the wheel?" she said.
Rohmer said he has heard from plenty of parents worried about sex offenders, and he has always encouraged them to report any concerns to the police. But a bylaw could be a proactive step, he said.
Selectmen Chairman Paul Monaco said his board has yet to discuss or see any details on sex offender limits.
Rohmer said he hopes to hammer out details in the coming months, including how any new limits would be enforced.
"That needs to be determined through the bylaw and what type of enforcement action we as a community should take," he said.
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