[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Vernon 6-6-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-04. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Adult-oriented establishments — See Ch. 105.
Parks and recreation — See Ch. 239.
Peace and good order — See Ch. 244.
Editor’s Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 270, Sexual Offender Residency and Restrictions, adopted 8-6-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-05.
This chapter is a regulatory measure aimed at protecting the health and safety of a child or children from the risk that convicted sex offenders may reoffend in locations close to their residences. The Town Board finds and declares that sex offenders are a serious threat to public safety. When convicted sex offenders reenter society, they are much more likely than any other type of offender to be rearrested for a new sexual assault. The Town Board further finds that, given the high rate of recidivism for sex offenders and that reducing opportunity and temptation is important to minimizing the risk of reoffense, there is a need to protect a child or children where they congregate or play in public places in addition to the protections afforded by state law near schools and other places a child or children frequent. The Town Board finds and recognizes that, in addition to schools, there are other areas where a child or children congregate or play.
This chapter is not intended to impose a criminal penalty on or punishment of sex offenders but rather to serve the Town's compelling interest to promote, protect, and improve the health, safety, and welfare of a child or children in the Town by creating areas around locations where a child or children regularly congregate in concentrated numbers where sex offenders and sexual predators are prohibited from loitering and/or establishing temporary or permanent residence and by regulating certain activities that may be used by sex offenders to prey upon children.
Due to the high rate of recidivism for sex offenders, and because reducing both opportunity and temptation would help minimize the risk of reoffense, the Town Board finds that there is a compelling need to protect a child or children where they congregate or play in public places.
For purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meaning unless the context otherwise requires:
- A person under the age of 18.
- CHILD SAFETY LOCATION
- The site upon which any of the following are located without regard to whether such site is located within the geographic limits of the Town of Vernon:
- A. Facility for children;
- B. Group home, as defined in § 48.02(7), Wis. Stats.;
- C. Library that is held open for use by the public;
- D. Licensed day-care center as defined in § 48.65, Wis. Stats.;
- E. Public or private nursery school, primary, elementary, secondary, middle, junior high, or high school;
- F. Recreational trail, Vernon marsh, playground or park;
- G. Specialized school for children, including, without limitation, a gymnastics academy, dance academy, or music school;
- H. Swimming pool, wading pool, or aquatic facility held open for use by the public;
- I. A public or private golf course or range; and
- J. Church or places of worship.
- CHILD SAFETY ZONE
- Any property within the Town of Vernon that is physically located within 1,000 feet of any child safety location. In the event that any portion of the property falls within a Child Safety Zone, the entire property will be considered part of the Child Safety Zone.
- Two or more persons under the age of 18.
- An individual's fixed and permanent residence where the individual intends to remain permanently and indefinitely and to which whenever absent the individual intends to return; provided, however, that no individual may have more than one domicile at any time. A residence being used for any special or temporary purpose is not considered a domicile.
- FACILITY FOR CHILDREN
- A public or private school; a group home, as defined in § 48.02(7), Wis. Stats.; a residential care center for children and youth, as defined in § 48.02(15d), Wis. Stats.; a shelter care facility, as defined in § 48.02(17), Wis. Stats.; a day-care center licensed under § 48.65, Wis. Stats.; a day-care program established under § 120.13(14), Wis. Stats.; a day-care provider certified under § 48.651, Wis. Stats.; or a youth center, as defined in § 961.01(22), Wis. Stats.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Town Board of the Town of Vernon.
- A person under the age of 17.
- The Town of Vernon.
- PERMANENT RESIDENCE
- A place where a person abides, lodges, or resides for 28 or more consecutive days.
- A. Any person who is required to register under § 301.45, Wis. Stats., for any offense against a child or any person who is required to register under § 301.45, Wis. Stats., and who is subject to the special bulletin notification process set forth in § 301.46(2) and (2m), Wis. Stats.:
- B. Any person subject to the sex crimes commitment provisions of § 975.06, Wis. Stats.;
- C. Any person found not guilty by reason of disease or mental defect placed on lifetime supervision under § 971.17(1j), Wis. Stats.
- SEXUALLY VIOLENT OFFENSE
- Has the meaning set forth in § 980.01(6), Wis. Stats., as amended from time to time.
- SPECIAL OR TEMPORARY PURPOSE
- A situation that is out of the ordinary, such as, but not limited to, an immediate family member who requires extra care due to severe health issues from a stroke, Alzheimer's disease, etc.
- TEMPORARY RESIDENCE
- A place where the person abides, lodges, or resides for a period of 28 or more days in the aggregate during any calendar year and which is not the person's permanent address or a place where the person routinely abides, lodges, or resides for a period of four or more consecutive or nonconsecutive days in any month and which is not the person's domicile.
Child Safety Zone restriction. Subject to the exceptions in § 270-3C, no sex offender shall establish a permanent residence or temporary residence within the Town of Vernon that is within a Child Safety Zone, as determined by following a straight line from the outer property line of the domicile or temporary residence to the nearest outer property line of any child safety location.
Original domicile restriction. In addition to § 270-3A, but subject to the exceptions in § 270-3C, no sex offender shall establish a permanent or temporary residence within the Town of Vernon and no supervised release of a sex offender shall be established in the Town of Vernon unless such person was domiciled in the Town of Vernon at the time of the offense resulting in the person's most recent conviction for committing the sexually violent offense and/or crime against a child or children. This section shall not apply if the sex offender establishes a domicile outside of the Town of Vernon prior to returning to the Town of Vernon.
Exceptions. A sex offender may not be found to be in violation of the residency restrictions in § 270-3A if the sex offender establishes that any of the following apply:
The sex offender was domiciled in the Town of Vernon prior to January 15, 2009; provided, however, that if the sex offender was then subject to § 301.45, Wis. Stats., the sex offender must have also reported and registered the residence pursuant to § 301.45, Wis. Stats., prior to such date to take advantage of the exception.
The sex offender is a minor and is not required to register under §§ 301.45 and 301.46, Wis. Stats.
The child safety location began after the sex offender had established the domicile or temporary residence and reported and registered the residence if required pursuant to § 301.45, Wis. Stats.
The sex offender is subject to an active court order to serve a sentence or is otherwise involuntarily required to reside in a jail, prison, juvenile facility, or other correctional institution or mental facility within the Child Safety Zone.
No person shall let or rent any place, structure, or part thereof, trailer or other conveyance with the knowledge that it will be used as a domicile or temporary residence by a sex offender contrary to the provisions of § 270-3 of this chapter.
Prohibited activities by sex offenders. Except as provided in Subsection B, no sex offender shall participate in any event in the Town of Vernon involving a child or children by means of distributing candy or other items to such child or children. Examples of such events would include, but not be limited to, Halloween, wearing a Santa Claus costume in a public place in relationship to Christmas, wearing an Easter Bunny costume in a public place in relationship to Easter, or other activities that may, under the circumstances then present, tend to entice a child or children to have contact with a sex offender.
Exception. Events in which the sex offender is a parent or legal guardian of the child or children involved are exempt from the provisions of Subsection A of this chapter, provided that no child or children other than a child or children of the sex offender are present at the event, and that the sex offender's participation in such event complies with any restrictions set by the court or any other governing authority with legal jurisdiction, i.e., probation, parole, Department of Corrections, etc.
Loitering by sex offender. No sex offender shall loiter or prowl on or within 300 feet of any child safety location as determined by following a straight line from the location of the sex offender to the nearest property line of any Child Safety Location, at a time, or a manner not usual for law-abiding individuals, under circumstances that warrant alarm for the safety of the persons or property in the vicinity. Among the circumstances which may be considered in determining whether such alarm is warranted is the fact that the person takes flight upon appearance of a law enforcement officer, refuses to identify himself or herself or manifestly endeavors to conceal himself or herself or any object. Unless flight by the person or other circumstances makes it impractical, a law enforcement officer shall, prior to any arrest for an offense under this section, afford the person an opportunity to dispel any alarm which would otherwise be warranted, by requesting him or her to identify himself or herself or explain his or her presence and conduct at the aforementioned locations. No person shall be convicted of an offense under this section if the law enforcement officer did not comply with the preceding sentence or if it appears at trial that the explanation given by the person was true and, if believed by the law enforcement officer at the time, would have dispelled the alarm.
Exception. The prohibitions set forth in Subsection A of this chapter shall not apply where the sex offender is a minor who is with one or both of his or her parents or guardian at the time of the offense or the sex offender was exercising First Amendment rights produced by the United States Constitution, including freedom of speech, free exercise of religion and the right of assembly.
The Town Clerk's office shall maintain an official map showing Child Safety Zones within the Town of Vernon and the resulting residency restriction distances. The Town Clerk's office shall update the map, at a minimum, semi-annually to reflect any changes in the location of Child Safety Zones. The map will be available in the Town Clerk's office. In the event of a conflict, the terms of this chapter shall control.
Violation of any provision of this chapter or any order, rule or regulation made herein shall be subject to a penalty as provided in § 1-10 of the Town of Vernon Municipal Code, subject to the following: The penalty range shall be not less than $500 and not more than $2,000 for each violation. Each day a person is in violation of this chapter constitutes a separate violation. In addition, and not to the exclusion or prejudice of such other penalties and remedies as may apply, violation of §§ 270-3 or 270-4 of this chapter shall also constitute a public nuisance, which the Town of Vernon may enforce by action or proceeding to enjoin or abate such public nuisance.
A designated offender may seek an exemption from this chapter by petitioning to the Sex Offender Residence Board ("Residence Board").
The Residence Board shall consist of three citizens residing in the Town. Members shall be selected by the Town Board. Members shall serve for a term of five years and shall serve no more than two consecutive terms. The terms for the initial members of the Residence Board shall be staggered with one member serving one year, a second serving three years and the third serving five years.
The Residence Board shall approve an official petition form. The sex offender seeking an exemption must complete the petition and submit it to the Town Clerk who shall forward it to the Residence Board. The Residence Board shall hold a hearing on each petition, during which the Residence Board may review any pertinent information and accept oral or written statements from any person. The Residence Board shall base its decision on factors related to the Town's interest in promoting, protecting, and improving the health, safety and welfare of the community. Applicable factors for the Residence Board's consideration shall include, but are not limited to:
Nature of the offense that resulted in sex offender status.
Date of offense.
Age at time of offense.
Recommendation of probation or parole officer.
Recommendation of Police Department and/or the Waukesha County Sheriff's department.
Recommendation of any treating practitioner.
Counseling, treatment and rehabilitation status of sex offender.
Remorse of sex offender.
Duration of time since sex offender's incarceration.
Support network of sex offender.
Relationship of sex offender and victim(s).
Presence or use of force in offense(s).
Adherence to terms of probation or parole.
Proposals for safety assurances of sex offender.
Conditions to be placed on any exception from the requirements of this chapter.
The Residence Board shall decide by majority vote whether to grant or deny an exemption. An exemption may be unconditional or limited to a certain address or time. The Residence Board's decision shall be final for purposes of appeal. A written copy of the decision shall be provided to the sex offender and the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department.
To the extent required by § 980.135 of the Wisconsin Statutes, and notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this chapter, the Town of Vernon hereby exempts and may not enforce any portion thereof that restricts or prohibits a sex offender from residing at a certain location or that restricts or prohibits a person from providing housing to a sex offender against an individual who is released under Wisconsin Statutes § 980.08, or against a person who provides housing to such individual, so long as the individual is subject to supervised release under Chapter 980 of the Wisconsin Statutes, the individual is residing where he or she is ordered to reside under § 980.08 of the Wisconsin Statutes, and the individual is in compliance with all court orders issued under Chapter 980 of the Wisconsin Statutes.