Indian Lake Borough may become the second Somerset County municipality to restrict where sex offenders can live within its boundaries.

Just days after Benson Borough passed a similar ordinance, Borough Council is looking into drafting regulations that would prohibit convicted offenders from living in certain parts of the community.

Benson became the first municipality in the county to adopt such a law. It restricts sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet of day-care centers, schools, parks and playgrounds – essentially most of the borough, council President Jon A. Vogel Jr. has said.

Some observers question the legality of such ordinances.

“Prohibiting sex offenders that have served their time from living in the borough at all would almost certainly be an illegal ordinance,” said Mary Catherine Roper, staff attorney for the ACLU in Philadelphia.

Some similar ordinances have faced legal challenge while others have faced no opposition.

According to a published report, a New Jersey Superior Court judge in December issued a ruling invalidating a similar ordinance saying the state’s Megan’s law specifically prohibits anyone from using a sex offender’s status to deny housing and accommodations. That ruling is being appealed.

Ordinances that have been upheld are those that “restrict but not prohibit” where someone can live, Roper said.

Indian Lake Councilmen Bryan J. Bozovich and Paul Scott Moore are working with Solicitor Dan Rullo to draft an ordinance, Mayor Barry S. Lichty said. It will take several months because Indian Lake lacks obvious locations that are frequented by children.

“We don’t have child care and we don’t have a park,” Lichty said. “They’ll try to come up with something for us because we’re a little bit different.”

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