No decision on Aiken County sex offender ordinance

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, January 15, 2008

AIKEN, S.C. -- The Aiken County Council met Tuesday to discuss a proposed ordinance limiting where sex offenders can live, but no decision was made on adopting it.

The move started in July with the first reading, and in September the decision was pushed off until tonight's meeting.

No final decision was made, but the county attorney did change some of the wording.

The ordinance already stated that no sex offender can live within a thousand feet of a childcare facility, school, church, or park. Now the ordinance reads that if one of those places opens up near where a sex offender owns a home, the offender does not have to move. If the offender is renting, they will have to move.

The ordinance also states that no sex offender can be employed by any of those four places, and they cannot loiter within a thousand feet of any area where minors come together.

Virginia Hearn picks up her mail in a quiet North Augusta neighborhood and is glad to know the Aiken County Council is looking to restrict where sex offenders live.

"To protect our children," she says.

Protecting the children -- something the council agrees with. So, they propose not allowing sex offenders to live within a thousand feet of a church, school, park or child-care facility. '

"I think it should be longer," says Virginia on the length.

No change in length, but there could be a new ripple in the proposal. A council member telling News 12, sex offenders could be grandfathered in if they don't live near a designated spot now, but one of those restricted places developed within a thousand feet.

Virginia lives right now the street from a sex offender, but says she has seen no problems with him in the 5 years she's known him to live near her.

No problems for her and she says - every sex offender should be grandfathered in.

"If they are registered where they are living and they have no offense since they've been living there," says Virginia.

So what's next for the proposed sex offender law? The Judicial and Public Safety Committee will look at the new proposal and then most likely send it to the full Council for a vote in February.

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