Council decides on sex offenders’ limits from children


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

Registered sex offenders in Lockhart are now prohibited from loitering on public ways within 300 feet (100 yards) of a Child Safety Zone, nor can they reside within 2,000 feet (.38 of a mile) where children 17-and-younger regularly congregate. Such zones, among others, include schools, daycare facilities, libraries, swimming pools, parks or playgrounds, among others.

The ordinance was unanimously approved at last week’s meeting of the Lockhart City Council, 7-0.

It is now unlawful for a person to own, rent, or lease a property and knowingly allow a child sex offender to establish a residence within the Child Safety Zone.

Lockhart Police Chief Gary Williamson said of the 35 registered sex offenders living in Lockhart, 29 were offenders of children. Most area towns had a 1,000-foot ordinance for registered sex offenders, although Pflugerville and Manor were also at 2,000 feet.

There are “grandfathered-in” clauses, such as if a registered sex offender has already established residency in a Child Safety Zone, but it does not apply to someone with a lease or rental agreement; for someone who has been incarcerated for a year or more, or if the person lives in a medical facility for care, whether short-term or long-term; or if the person was a minor when the offense was committed.

There are other exemptions such as while a Registered Sex Offender is performing community service ordered by a magistrate.

Penalties are a Class C Misdemeanor and/or a fine up to $2,000 per day.

“There are about 35 Registered Sex Offenders that live in the City of Lockhart, and that number grows a little every year,” Williamson said. “Studies have shown the likelihood of these people reoffending is high. This concern has brought requests from a couple of citizens for a child safety zone ordinance.”

A child sex offender, Williamson noted, is an individual who has been convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for a sexual offense involving a person under 17 years of age, and such individual is required to register as a sex offender under Chapter 62 Texas Code of Criminal Procedures.

The distance Registered Sex Offenders could be from a Child Safety was up to the City Council, which listened to some nearby cities that ranged from 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet. The council chose the farthest distance.

Other conformities Registered Sex Offenders must adhere to include during Halloween where such an offender cannot leave an exterior porch light on and must post a sign: “This residence does not recognize Halloween.”

In other business:

Jesse Hernandez, owner of 4H Hat Company, expressed concerns to City Council regarding the City and its First Friday celebration and what he called “inconsistency with the planning and zoning departments.”

Hernandez said he was told by the City that he should not be participating in First Fridays since his business at 403 E. Pecan St. was not downtown and he was in violation of the Noise Ordinance. Hernandez said he had been participating in First Fridays since April 2021 and now has a side yard and stage to accommodate live music acts along with a dance floor. He said he had received two noise complaints as well as a sign violation and was asked to fill out a specific use permit application.

Patsy Jevas also addressed the council regarding rapid gunfire she and her husband had heard on multiple occasions from their property about a mile from the Lockhart square.

Jevas noted that gunshots had killed a bull and a goat, blinded a horse, and hit several other of their animals.

“I don’t want to worry about being shot in my home,” Jevas said. “It’s a life-threatening situation.”

April Hope also addressed the council regarding the lack of special needs transportation in town.

Council renewed its Interlocal Cooperation Contract with the Texas Department of Public Safety for the Failure to Appear Program. The program allows the Municipal Court to put a hold on and prevent offenders from renewing their driver’s license until they complete their obligations with the court.

City Manager Steve Lewis said the Splash Pads at City Park and Maple Street Park are scheduled to open on March 30. They will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Lockhart Fire Chief Randy Jenkins gave an update on the city’s Emergency Warning System. The outdoor sirens are activated during the following weather conditions: Tornado warning; the potential for destructive winds of 70 miles per hour or greater; 1.5 inches (or greater) in diameter of hail is observed; other hazardous weather conditions.

Mayor White read a proclamation declaring March 19 as Cesar Chavez Farm Worker Appreciation Day.


Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.