Concerns voiced about sex offenders
Concerns about housing facilities for sex offenders were addressed by a local business person at a regular meeting of the Anna City Council which was held last week.
The meeting was Tuesday evening, June 21, at Anna City Hall.
The concerns about sex offenders were raised by Steve Landreth, who has a real estate business office in Anna.
Landreth said that based on concerns which have been voiced by the community regarding sex offenders, he would like the city council to take action on the matter.
The city's legal representative, attorney John Foley of Anna, said that such action could be a precedent-setting move – one that might involve Constitutional issues and possible legal action.
Landreth read a prepared statement at the meeting which addressed his thoughts on the matter.
He also had drafted and sent a letter which was addressed to the mayor of Anna and the four city council members.
The subject for the letter was identified as sex offender protection for city residents.
In the prepared statement which he read at the June 21 council meeting, Landreth said that he was sharing "a proposal for the safety and welfare of the residents of the City of Anna.
"The primary reason that government exists is to provide for the safety and security of its residents. Government does this in various forms. A police department, and fire department with firetrucks and equipment, a road crew fixing pot holes, an ambulance department, a rescue squad, and on and on.
"Another method is by passing ordinances that do the same: provide for the safety and welfare of people living in a community.
"I am here to suggest the protection ability that a municipality has be used to address another safety and welfare concern. This concern is about the concentration of sex offenders in multiple locations in this city.
"I am here to ask the city to strongly consider restricting the number of sex offenders who can occupy a single building and/or address.
"We currently have about 29 with Anna addresses. People do search for this info prior to buying a home. I have it all a click away on my website. If action is not taken in this matter, we could see this number double or triple in the near future.
"I talked with an attorney for the attorney generals office whose number is shown on the Illinois State Police website.
"I asked her if she thought a municipal government had the right to regulate sex offenders and she said she believed many had passed ordinances specifically dealing with this matter. She named Springfield as one where she lived.
"Again, sex offenders are not a protected class. Group homes may have six to eight men in one home with a 19 year old woman being paid minimum wage to watch over them. I do not understand how such housing is totally unregulated.
"I ask you to do something to prevent a potential tragedy and maintain local property values for all who choose Anna as their home."
After Landreth read his prepared statement, Mayor Steve Hartline said that he would not mind if the city looked into the matter.
In reference to regulations in other Illinois municipalities governing such matters, the mayor noted that those may be home rule communities. Home rule communities have more flexibility in terms of local governing options. Anna is not a home rule community.
City attorney Foley suggested that if the council were to act in connection with housing regulations, such a move could lead to legal action by such an entity as the American Civil Liberties Union.
Foley said if the council were to proceed with action on the matter, a "clearly stated public safety argument" is needed. Without such a foundation, he said, legal action would be likely.
Concerns about enforcing such regulations also were addressed.
Anna Police Chief Mike Hunter noted during discussion about the matter that his department does conduct periodic checks related to sex offenders. Hunter said that sex offenders must register at the Union County Sheriff's Office. If offenders move, they must notify authorities, the police chief said.