The Vilas County town of Cloverland’s planning commission held a public hearing Thursday night on a proposed ordinance to regulate where state officials house sexual predators. About two dozen people attended, with many expressing strong opinions on the issue.
The ordinance was prompted by the placement last year of 37-year-old Steven Burgess in a neighborhood on Chicaree Lane where families with young children live. Burgess, from Lac du Flambeau, served 17 years in prison for attempted sexual abuse of a child. And his neighbors want him moved.
The ordinance would prevent registered sex offenders from being housed within 2000 feet of designated child safety zones. Deana Lindblom and her husband, Tye, live near Burgess with their young daughter. They have been actively involved in the ordinance issue:
“It’s just so frustrating. I was just hoping that they’d feel for us…but apparently there’s more to this than meets the eye.”
Cloverland town chair Scott Maciewsik made clear to the crowd last night that the ordinance, if passed by the town board, would not be retroactive. It would not move Burgess out of the Chicaree lane house because he’s already residing there. The ordinance would only help control future placements of sexual predators within the town.
Another neighbor, Kay McCardle, expressed her frustration with the pace of getting an ordinance passed:
“I think there’s more that can be done. Now, don’t ask me what. But I feel that it’s moving very slowly, and I also feel that last fall when the state people were here, and they told us that no one would take him in Lac du Flambeau – I find that kind of suspect.”
Lac du Flambeau already has an ordinance that restricts where sex offenders can live. Maciewsik indicated the Cloverland ordinance will be on the agenda for the next meeting of the town board in July.