BURNET, Texas (KXAN) - A unanimous vote by City Council members in Burnet has certain registered sex offenders facing stricter restrictions on where they can live.
Sex offenders whose victims were younger than 17 can no longer live within 1,000 feet of where children commonly gather.
This includes but is not limited to, a playground, playscape, school day care facility, crisis center or shelter, skate park, youth soccer or baseball field, video arcade facilities, public or private youth centers or a public swimming pool.
Under the ordinance, which will go into effect in 30 days, if a sex offender of this type owns a home within a 1,000 feet of these areas already, they will be allowed to stay living there.
However, if the offender is renting, they will have a six-month grace period to move. This also means property owners cannot rent homes or apartments to these offenders either if that property is within 1,000 feet of any of the above listed areas.
Violations of the ordinance on the part of the offender or renter will result in misdemeanor charges and a fine of up to $500.
Under Texas law , paroled sex offenders are not allowed to be within 500 feet of any place where children are known to congregate. This is known as a "Child Safety Zone." Offenders who are placed on probation also may be ordered by a judge to avoid children, but once the offender has completed their sentence, there are no regulations preventing them from being around children.
The city's ordinance goes farther than state law.
"We have had some calls of sex offenders hanging out at parks just during the day, " said Burnet Police Chief Paul Nelson. "We have not had any major problems of sex offenders doing anything or attempting to do anything with kids at all. We have not had any calls about that."
Texas Department of Public Safety crime records show there are 85 registered sex offenders residing in Burnet County. More than 20 of those offenders live within Burnet city limits.
"I think it is fair to them because of the kids. We are not saying you can't live in the city, just that you can't live in certain sections of the city to protect the kids," Nelson added.
Although LuzCinda Garner never worried about sex offenders living in Burnet, the mother of 14 is happy with the ordinance. She home schools her children, who often play outdoors, and lives within a 1,000 feet of two parks.
"It makes me feel safer," she said. "It makes me feel good, I guess."
There are residents, however, that are sounding off at City Council members for passing this ordinance. They feel it is unfair and attaching a label and stigma to rehabilitated offenders.
"Sex offenders have rights," said Lonny Hocker, who brings his grandkids to Hamilton Creek Park and plays his flute there daily. "They have the right to live within our community, within our areas. As long as they are breaking no laws and living as a law abiding citizen, you should extend your hand to them and say, 'Hello,' to them."
Law enforcement is viewing this ordinance as fair.
"I'm not saying sex offenders, per se, are all bad. But, something happened for them to be a convicted sex offender and if it is with a kid, I don't believe they need to be around kids," Nelson added.
Winter is invading Texas with a vengeance as snow, sleet and ice were unleashed on much of northern and western sections of the state.
A man is expected to survive after being stabbed in the head at the Salvation Army shelter in Downtown Austin at about 3:45 a.m. Friday.
Investigators are looking into an overnight fire that left one woman with third-degree burns.
Caldwell County residents gathered Thursday evening to organize their fight against a proposed landfill that they say poses a hazard that they don't need.
The pastor of the Austin church attended by the teacher who was killed Thursday in Benghazi remembered him as a spiritual friend dedicated to improving the lives of others.
As the Austin area prepares itself for an impending winter storm on Friday, Dec. 6, many schools have already announced delays.