Approval of day care will force sex offenders out

07/19/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

The Tampa City Council today approved a day care center in Seminole Heights that has been the source of contentious debate within the last month.

That’s because the proposed day care center – located inside a Tampa church – is just a few feet from an apartment complex that currently houses four sex offenders.

Mina Morgan is an attorney representing the John Calvin Presbyterian Church at 6501 North Nebraska Avenue. She said she the real issue is between apartment complex owner Chris Stover and the State Department of Corrections.

Stover said that his building and two nearby motels that cater towards the seediers aspects of city life are no area for young children to be congregating.

And Stover had allies willing to speak before the City Council to say that it wasn’t right for the church to add a day care center to their facility with the risk of sex offenders being close by.

Michael Schultz said it was insane that the City Council would approve such an arrangement.

But the City Council said that the project met code requirements, and approved the day care center.

The addition of the day care center to the John Calvin Presbyterian Church means that the sex offenders currently living across the narrow alley will have to go.

JoEllen Ratcliffe is a spokesperson with the State Department of Corrections. She said state law bans sexual offenders and predators whose victims were 16 or younger from living within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, park or playground. (The city has investigated adopting a 2,500-foot rule.)

Last month, Chris Stover said the city could be setting up a legal battle because his apartments have first claim and the distance rules shouldn't be retroactive.

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