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Village aims to distance sex offenders from kids

Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand and the village board

Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand and the village board proposed a law that would ban sex offenders from living or loitering within a half-mile of schools, day-care centers, parks or playgrounds. (June 01, 2012) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Registered sex offenders seeking housing in Farmingdale would be banned under a proposed law from living or loitering within a half-mile of schools, day-care centers, parks or playgrounds.

The measure, to be considered at next Monday's village board meeting, seeks to "reduce the opportunity and temptation" for "repeated acts against minors."

It would ban offenders within 500 feet of school bus stops and bar anyone from knowingly leasing or renting to an offender in the restricted areas.

"Nobody in their right mind is going to argue with our village putting out a law to restrict sex offenders," Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand said in an interview earlier this month. "The most important thing is to protect our children in the schoolyard or playground, the easiest places to approach children."

The proposed law for Farmingdale, which does not currently have a sex offender law, says children's "age and inexperience makes them particularly vulnerable to the heinous and reprehensible acts of these offenders." The village board found high rates of recidivism and that rehabilitation programs are largely ineffective, according to the draft.

Offenders already living within the proposed boundaries and offenders younger than 18 and living with guardians would be among the exempt groups. As of Monday, six registered level 2 and level 3 sex offenders live within the ZIP code shared by Farmingdale Village Hall, according to the state database.

Level 1 is classified by the state as a low risk of a repeat offense, level 2 as a moderate risk, and level 3 as a high risk and a threat to public safety.

The measure would be enforced by the building inspector and Nassau County police.

Violators would face fines up to $2,500 per day.

Some sex offender residency restrictions, including those imposed by Nassau and Suffolk counties, have been challenged in court for being inconsistent with state law or unconstitutional. But Ekstrand said he believes the measure, drafted by the same law firm that helped Massapequa Park Village with its restrictions, would hold up in court. State law places no residency restrictions on offenders beyond those of their parole or probation.

Village officials Monday are also set to consider a proposed law that would require "massage practitioners" in Farmingdale to be properly licensed.

Ekstrand said the village "vice squad" last month removed five mattresses from a massage parlor on Main Street where "virtually nobody was licensed."

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