LAKE GEORGE - Although the village of Lake George has the most motel and hotel rooms in the region - a fact which may draw sex offenders chased out of other communities, the village board decided Monday to hold off on legislation to regulate and license hotels hosting them.
Village Mayor Robert Blais warned, however, that with other nearby communities passing laws limiting the number of sex offenders staying at hotels and motels, Lake George might experience an influx of them.
A local land-use law recently passed in the town of Lake Luzerne - and now under consideration in the towns of Lake George and Queensbury - limits the number of sex offenders that could live at once in a motel or hotel and require the host business to post a public notification that such individuals were staying on the premises.
This law requires that motels and hotels hosting sex offenders to apply for and obtain a license, costing $3,000 per year, from the town government.
For the law proposed for the town of Lake George - in the vicinity surrounding the Village - a public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday March 31.
Both these laws are based on the one passed months ago in the town of Colonie.
Civil rights advocates have already announced intentions to overturn the Colonie law.
But Lake George Mayor Blais said Monday that these sex offender laws weren't likely to withstand court challenges, based on what he'd heard.
"You can't take a certain class of individuals and restrict them like this through zoning," he said. "Besides, the $3,000 licensing fee won't hold up in court."
He said the village would be wise to wait out the immanent legal challenges and save legal costs in defending such a law, then pass a law that a state court determines would be legal.
Village Trustee Joe Mastrodomenico suggested that the village go ahead with the law, but without charging a fee. It was important, he said, to protect tourists by requiring motels and hotels to post a sign warning others that they were hosting sex offenders.
Blais said that it was a good idea to post such information, but the local laws as recently passed by other communities were likely on shaky Constitutional grounds.
Besides, he said, very few village motels or hotels could now legally accommodate sex offenders, since existing state laws prevented them from living within set distances from churches, schools, parks and playgrounds which are scattered throughout the village.
"There's very few places in Lake George village that sex offenders legally can be housed," he said.