Mount Pleasant tightens rules for sex offender housing

MOUNT PLEASANT (WITI) -- Another municipality in Racine County has tightened up rules regarding where registered sex offenders can live. The Village of Mount Pleasant mirrored its surrounding villages and passed its own ordinance on Monday night, January 13th. The new rules have residents feeling some relief -- but could cause problems in the future.

Far on the east side of the Village of Mount Pleasant sits a transitional home for sex offenders.

Village Administrator Kurt Wahlen says since other villages -- like Caledonia and Sturtevant, along with the city of Racine have strict ordinances, a majority of the sexual criminals ended up in Mount Pleasant.

"We don`t want Mount Pleasant to be a dumping ground. We don`t to be the only ones out there without this ordinance and do what we can to keep our citizens safe and feeling comfortable," Wahlen said.

On Monday night, the Mount Pleasant Village Board decided to follow suit by passing its own ordinance.

"The ordinance entails where sexual predators can live in the Village of Mount Pleasant -- restricts it very much," Wahlen said.

Sex offenders will be banned from prohibited locations where children are known to be -- such as daycares, parks, playgrounds and places of worship. Sex offenders must be a certain distance from these locations.

FOX6 News spoke with one Mount Pleasant sex offender who fears he will run out of available living options because he lives in a well-known transitional facility next door to a church.

"This was the only place I could go. It's horrible. It makes me feel disappointed," the sex offender said.

The pastor of the church nearby says they've had minimal contact with the residents of the transitional home -- but says he's torn by the new ordinance.

"There`s never been a concern because we haven`t had any issues whatsoever. We have a moral responsibility to help those that need help but I do not condone sex offenders," Pastor Melvin Hargrove with Zoe Outreach Ministries said.

Wahlen says the bigger issue now comes with a by-product of the combination of several areas now having an ordinance.

"The problem, according to the Department of Corrections is that we`re reducing the ability of the DOC to place sexual predators and offenders and they are becoming homeless and harder to track. The worst case scenario arises when the state can't monitor them and they go off the grid," Wahlen said.

Wahlen says rules go into effect immediately -- so in the current transitional homes, when the lease comes up and the rent is due -- the ordinance kicks in and sex offenders living in the home have to go.

Wahlen says the village will revisit the homeless issue, meet with other jurisdictions and the Department of Corrections and see it is being rational with the situation.