By Karolyn Gephart
Interim Parks and Recreation Director for City of Pearland Carry Capers was appointed the Director of Parks and Recreation at the February 8 meeting of City Council held in person at City Hall as well as virtually. The vote to appoint her was unanimous.
Waterline easement acquisition was on the Council’s agenda three times and was discussed together and voted in one vote.
Three resolutions authorized the power of eminent domain to acquire a waterline easement and a temporary construction easement on certain property. The properties were for the FM 1128 Waterline Project. All three tracts are in the name of the same owners. At this time, the owners have not come back to the city with a counteroffer. The resolutions passed unanimously.
Two gradalls and a backhoe were on the agenda for replacement as three units of heavy equipment in the amount of $840,656.09 from ASCO Equipment. The Council voted unanimously to postpone this item until the next Council meeting. The resolution to purchase a new GapVax truck in the amount of $421,258.84 was discussed and approved unanimously.
Council amended selective provisions of Article V Sex Offender Residency of Chapter 20 of the Code of Ordinances. In 2006, the Pearland City Council passed Ordinance No. 1267-1 restricting the ability of sex offenders with victims under the age of 16 to reside within 1000 feet of any premise where children commonly gather, including a playground, school, day care facility, video arcade facility, public or private youth center, or public swimming pool. The ordinance has been successful in limiting the migration of sex offenders into the city, Council reported.
Recently, surrounding municipalities have updated their ordinances to make their cities less accessible to sex offender registrants. A recent review of the Pearland ordinance identified several deficiencies. The current ordinance is inconsistent with state law, which identifies a child victim as under the age of 17. Pearland’s current ordinance restricts offenders with victim under the age of 16 at the time of the offense. There are currently five registrants with child victims between the ages of 16 and 17. These offenders are not subject to the residency restrictions of our current ordinance.
Area municipalities have increased the buffer zones surrounding protected premises to further limit exposure of these premises to sex offender access or observation. As examples the following are area cities and their corresponding buffer areas: Sugar Land, 2,500 feet; Missouri City, 2,500 feet; Friendswood, 2,000 feet; and League City 2,000 feet.
State criminal trespass laws govern private recreation facilities and their ability to limit access by registered sex offenders; however, city facilities have no mechanism to restrict access to registered sex offenders.
Council unanimously voted to establish restrictions for offenders whose victims were under the age of 17 to conform to the restrictions set forth in State law, to define “Public Parks” and deny public park access to persons required to register as a sex offender because of a violation involving a victim who was less than 17 years of age and to increase to 2,000 feet the buffer surrounding playgrounds, schools, day care facilities, video arcade facilities, public or private youth centers, or public swimming pools where a person required to register as a sex offender because of a violation involving a victim who was less than 17 years of age is prohibited from residing.