LEXINGTON -- Lexington is joining the push to limit where sex offenders live in town.
Town Council members plan to bar sex offenders from residing or loitering within 2,500 feet -- nearly a half-mile -- of schools, churches, parks, playgrounds and other sites where children gather.
The proposal effectively would ban offenders, other than the six who live there now, from residing in and visiting the Midlands community of 15,000, officials said.
"We don't want them here," councilman Danny Frazier said. "It sends a statement to them."
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Lexington is the second Columbia area municipality preparing to adopt the restriction. A similar plan received preliminary approval in Cayce.
Lexington's proposed restriction is permissible but extending it that far might be seen as discriminatory, town attorney Brad Cunningham said.
Council members are ready to fight if the limit is challenged.
"What's the problem with protecting our children?" councilwoman Hazel Leggett-Tyndall said.
The council could give initial approval Dec. 3 and final approval in January.
As of November 2006, 19 states inhibited residency, activity and employment for sex offenders, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Civil liberties groups have said they will be watching the restriction, while child advocacy groups warn the ban may provide a false sense of security.