A new subdivision planned in Kansas will look and feel just like any other development in the fast-growing area.
But there's one big difference: Registered sex offenders won't be allowed to live in the new development in Lenexa, Kan. The development will be off of K-10 highway and and Woodland Road in Johnson County, Kan.
In August, construction begins on the Kansas City area's first sex-offender-restricted subdivision, probably only the second such development nationwide.
A Texas-based developer said his plan is an answer to a problem communities wrestle with -- how to keep sexual predators far from children and families.
Their first such project in Lubbock, Texas, has nearly sold out in nine months. Developer Clayton Isom said he's planning other such subdivisions in the Kansas City area after the Lenexa project is finished.
"Certainly, there are things you can do to improve a neighborhood, like pour better streets or build a park. But this is more," Isom told The Kansas City Star. "We can keep one little girl or boy safe."
The developer works closely with homeowners' associations to draw up restrictions banning registered offenders from living inside the development. Potential owners will undergo background checks. If a homeowner becomes a sex offenders after they move in, the association will give them huge financial penalties, a fine of at least $1,000 a day, until they move out of the neighborhood, The Star reported. And a lien may be put on the house, in order to collect the money.
Apparently, the exclusion of sex offenders is legal. Lubbock's community development executive director Nancy Haney told The Star that the restrictions do not violate the Fair Housing Act.
"Sex offenders aren't considered one of the seven protected classes," Haney said. "The developers did their homework."
Isom said his company wants to lobby lawmakers to create financial incentives for developers who create neighborhoods that ban sex offenders.
Not everyone is happy about the idea.
"If entire towns and municipalities do this, you have serious constitutional issues," Brett Shirk, executive director of the area chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Star. "If you start outlawing all these areas, where are offenders going to live?" He said it is a "slippery slope."
The restrictions do not apply to people who have been removed from the sex-offender registry or people who have other crimes on their records. It only applies to sex offenders on the sex-offender registry.
Isom said he got the idea for the subdivisions after he heard about a 9-year-old Florida girl, Jessica Lunsford, who was kidnapped, raped and killed -- allegedly by a registered sex offender. Court records said that convicted sex offender John Evander Couey admitted kidnapping Jessica, keeping her in his bedroom for several days and burying her alive behind his home.
I'm thinking that when/ if challenged in court, it will be rendered a moot point. There is a national law about discrimination in housing and that is blatantly discriminatory.
That said, they all need to be sent someplace.
Well, as long as the govt does not get involved, I think it would be legal. Now, if they start giving tax breaks/incentives for it, I think that could be challenged. There are already apartment complexes that do criminal background checks.