In a stunning turn-around, the Montville Town Council rescinded its passage of the contentious Senior Safety Zones ordinance and also, surprisingly, voted to do the same with the recently passed Child Safety Zones.
“My intention is, if (the senior safety zones) are a violation of civil rights than we need to be consistent. I feel we must rescind both,” said Town Council President Candy Buebendorf.
The Connecticut affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union was poised to challenge the Senior Safety Zone in court.
More than 530 citizens signed a petition created by Councilor Rosetta Jones to see the town law repealed.
“This ordinance would do nothing to protect seniors and everything to subject us to a lawsuit,” Jones said before the vote.
The law would have prohibited sex offenders from coming in to contact with senior citizens and face a $99 fine if they violated the ordinance. Opponents called the law unenforceable and unconstitutional.
Earlier this month, Commission on Aging members told Council liaison Billy Caron the town should back off the ordinance and wait to see if the state moves on enacting legislation. A bill made it through committee last year but did not make it past both General Assembly houses.
“I initially voted for it with reservations,” said Commission on Aging member John Geary. “And my reservations are a lot more activated now. Montville should sit on it for awhile. Montville has had a history of very bad lawsuits. I strongly recommend Montville cool its heels for a year or so. The town has had enough lawsuits.”
Montville Senior and Social Service director Kathleen Doherty-Peck as well as a group of seniors including Senior Center president Sandy Stauffer made an unsuccessful last ditch effort to see the zones remain through appeals in letters to the council which were referenced but ultimately, the decision of the Commission on Aging to hold off prevailed.