The Flagler County Commission has enacted new restrictions on where sexual offenders or predators may reside, increasing safety buffers around places where children are known to gather.
The commission voted 5-0 in favor of the new regulations during its June 7 meeting after Sheriff Rick Staly spoke in favor of the additional limits.
The county’s existing ordinance had barred sexual predators from residing within 1,000 feet of schools, daycare centers, parks or playgrounds. The commission’s June 7 vote adds school bus stops, libraries, churches and subdivisions’ private recreational open spaces and facilities to the list and increases the buffer from 1,000 feet to 2,500 feet, or just under half a mile.
“The state of Florida law says a minimum of 1,000,” Staly said. “2,500 feet makes it a lot better — safer, in my opinion — for the kids.”
Commissioner David Sullivan noted that if you draw a 2,500-square-foot circle around every bus stop, school, library, church, park or playground, there isn’t much land left.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Sullivan said, “but I’m just saying that that’s a pretty significant area.”
Staly said the 2,500-foot-limit was recommended by his staff.
“Maybe if we make it legally difficult, they’ll move to a different county,” Staly said. “I’d just as soon they not be here at all, but unfortunately I can’t control that.”
The Sheriff’s Office will draw up a map of the places where sexual offenders are permitted to reside under the amended ordinance.