EM approves sex offender residency restrictions

By LeAnn R. Ralph

ELK MOUND — Registered sex offenders who wish to live in Elk Mound will soon have to follow a set of restrictions imposed by a village ordinance.

The Elk Mound Village Board approved an ordinance establishing sexual offender residency restrictions at the March 5 meeting that include not living within 1,500 feet of a school or another place where children could be present such as a park or a church.

Travis Hakes, Elk Mound police chief, said the ordinance was part of the work he is doing to update the village’s ordinances.

 The ordinance applies to people who have been convicted of sex crimes against children and who must register with the Wisconsin Department of Correction’s sex offender registry.

According to the ordinance, registered sex offenders may not establish a residence — or even loiter — within 1,500 feet of a public park, a public swimming pool, a public library, a public recreational trail, a public playground, a school for children, athletic fields and facilities used by children, a movie theater, a licensed daycare center, a ski or sledding hill open to the public, specialized schools for children (such as a dance, music or gymnastics academy), a public or private golf course, aquatic facilities open to the public, a church or other house of religious worship, or any facility for children, such as a group home, residential care facility for children or youth, or a youth center.

The ordinance also stipulates that registered sex offenders are not allowed to participate in a holiday event involving children, such as distributing candy on Halloween, wearing a Santa Claus costume on or before Christmas, or wearing an Easter Bunny costume on or before Easter.

Sex offenders are allowed to attend holiday events in which the sex offender is the parent or guardian of the children involved if no other children are present.

The ordinance requires the village clerk-treasurer to maintain an official map showing the prohibited locations for sex offenders, to update the map annually and to display the map or make it available at the clerk-treasurer’s office.

Registered sex offenders who are already residents in Elk Mound are exempt from the ordinance.

Sex offenders also are exempt from the provisions of the ordinance if the school, daycare center, park trail, playground, place of worship or any other place where children are known to congregate was opened after the person established a permanent or temporary residence.

The sex offender’s residence also is exempt from the ordinance if it is primary residence of the person’s parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse or child and the relative of the sex offender established the residence at least ten years earlier.

According to the ordinance, registered sex offenders can attend worship services but cannot participate in religious education programs that include youngsters under the age of 18.

Sex offenders also can attend events that require the attendance of a parent and written, advance notice was given to the person in charge of the event.

Registered sex offenders also will be allowed to vote in Elk Mound provided the person is eligible to vote, it is the designated polling place for the offender and the sex offender only stays long enough to cast a ballot.

The provisions of the ordinance can be waived or modified upon appeal to the Elk Mound Village Board.

Members of the Elk Mound Village Board voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.

The Elk Mound Village Board approved not proceeding with an ordinance intended to prohibit or control underage drinking.

The proposed ordinance was related to adults supplying minors with alcohol at home, noted Tom Gilbert, village trustee and chair of the public safety committee.

The committee recommended that the village board not proceed with the ordinance because state laws and county ordinances already cover adults supplying minors with alcoholic beverages, he said.