- The town of Southampton has joined the town of Riverhead in commencing legal action against Suffolk County over the placement of a controversial trailer housing convicted sex offenders at the Suffolk County Jail. As it sits now, the trailer lies in Riverside, within the borders of Southampton town, yet closer to Riverhead parks and schools.
Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot said the town
will not stand for broken promises. Photo by Kelly Carroll
"We want to send a message that broken promises will not be stood for," Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot asserted during a special town board meeting on Friday, April 3. "There is concern for our families and businesses."
Last month, the town of Riverhead filed its own suit against Suffolk County, stating that "the original placement of the sex offender trailer and, more importantly, the recent expansion of the sex offender trailer to accommodate 24 level two and three sex offenders is in direct violation of the Suffolk County health code, sanitation code, New York State executive law, social services law, correction law, environmental conservation law, and SEQRA laws, as well as town preservation laws."
According to Riverhead Town Supervisor Phil Cardinale, New York State law and the Suffolk County charter mandate that sexual offenders be barred at least 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds and parks. However, the trailer is within a quarter mile of George Schmelzer Park, and is close to the Riverhead Public Library and schools. In addition, Cardinale charged that "the county has failed to impose adequate supervision as evidenced by recent arrests of a trailer-based sex offender in downtown Riverhead."
While the town of Southampton shares in these concerns, Town Attorney Daniel Adams added that Suffolk County is in violation of Southampton's land-use laws - namely by not obtaining a building permit for the trailer - as well as in violation of the town code's residency restrictions which do not allow for sex offenders to be housed near schools and playgrounds. "Not just schools and playgrounds in the town," Adams noted, "but any school or playground."
According to Adams, the key difference in the town of Southampton's suit against the county will be the violation of land-use laws. The town's suit will have its own index number, and its own action in the Supreme Court as well, but it will be noted that the two actions are related. Adams said it is the town's intention that the two suits be assigned to the same judge.
"Hopefully they can try and find a solution," the town attorney offered. "There are a lot of sex offenders concentrated in one area, and they're not imprisoned. They can come and go. The longer the sex offender stays in one location, the more likely the sex offender will commit another crime."
Adams added that officials within the town of Southampton would like to see the housing of sex offenders spread throughout the county, not clustered in one area. "That's just asking for trouble," he asserted. "They should be dispersed all over Suffolk County, not just depositing them on our doorstep."