COOPERSTOWN -- Convicted sex offenders in Otsego County are now free to live in any address of their choosing, barring conditions they may face if they are on probation or parole.
The county Board of Representatives, by a 10 to 3 vote, rescinded the Child Safety Zone Law it enacted in late 2007.
Two months ago, the board was advised by District Attorney John Muehl that the law was constitutionally flawed, was bound to be overturned on appeal and was no longer being enforced by police agencies.
The law had applied to the two highest risk categories of sex offenders -- Level 2 or 3 -- and prohibited them from living within 1,000 feet of a school, a park or places where children congregate. The Otsego County law included a waiver provision that allowed sex offenders to seek permission from a special committee to have residences closer to those places where children gather.
Those opposing the repeal of the law were Reps. Rich Murphy, D-Town of Oneonta; John Kosmer, D-Fly Creek; and Donald Lindberg, R-Worcester. Rep. Pauline Koren, R-Milford, was absent from the meeting.
"I just wasn't comfortable with taking what some perceived as a protection away from neighborhoods," Murphy said. "The people I spoke with made it clear to me that they wanted that provision kept in place even though we have been advised it is unenforceable and unconstitutional."
The push to repeal the law was led by Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, who had said the statute made rural communities more vulnerable to known sexual predators being blocked from finding places to live in cities and larger towns.
In March, county lawmakers were told by Susan Dalesandro, the chairwoman of the Child Safety Zone Review Committee and the director of Otsego County's Community Mental Health Services Department, that there was no evidence showing the law had been protecting children.
Kosmer explained that he voted against scrapping the statute because "I'm in favor of kids over being in favor of rescinding something because people tell me it is unenforceable. If it's unenforceable, I don't want to change it. Let Albany change it."