Chester Considers Ordinance That Would Limit Where Sex Offenders Can Live

Nov 18, 2016

The town of Chester is contemplating a child safety ordinance that would limit where registered sex offenders could live.

Jim Carroll is the town's attorney, and at a public hearing Thursday night he said the town could face legal challenges if the ordinance is passed.

"There are at least four legal issues that are the subject of significant dispute over the constitutionality — and about the enforceability — of child safety ordinances as they have been adopted throughout the country," Carroll said. "And there is a very significant issue in the state of Vermont about whether the enabling legislation enables a town to in fact adopt a child safety ordinance."

Some Chester residents have been frustrated with their inability to control where convicted sex offenders are housed after leaving the nearby prison in Springfield.

About two dozen people showed up for the hearing, and there was widespread support for the town to move ahead, regardless of the possibility of a lengthy and expensive legal battle.

A Washington County Superior Court judge has already struck down a similar ordinance in Barre, and a Rutland ordinance is now being challenged in court.