Judge rules ordinance in Dayton restricting where sex offenders can reside is preempted by state law

A Hennepin County judge has ruled an ordinance in Dayton restricting where convicted sex offenders can establish residence in the city is preempted by state law.

The ordinance, which was passed by Dayton's City Council in October, 2016, makes it illegal for any "designated offender" to establish temporary or permanent residence within 2,000 feet of any school, licensed day care center and seasonal pumpkin patch or apple orchard, as well as other locations like conservation areas, hiking and biking trails, swimming pools and athletic fields.

And it prohibits them from residing within 1,000 feet of any public school bus stop or place of worship.

But a lawsuit filed by three individuals who were civilly committed into the custody of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in St. Peter alleged the ordinance was designed to prevent them from being released into a group home on Dayton River Road.

"Since the statute is so detailed that it effectively determines the outcome," Judge Susan M. Robiner wrote in her ruling. "The Court finds that a conflict exists between state law and the Ordinance. The state statutory scheme led to three orders specifically allowing Plaintiffs to be discharged to the River Road House. The Ordinance was specifically designed to directly conflict with the provisional discharge orders and ultimately denies Plaintiffs the ability to reside in the River Road House.

"In the plainest terms, the Ordinance forbids Plaintiffs from residing in the River Road House while the statutory scheme expressly allows Plaintiffs to reside in River Road House."

The judge wrote the ordinance as written would negatively impact MSOP's ability to discharge offenders from the program.

"Compliance with these varying local laws would be burdensome, and any provisional discharge would become impossible if every municipality in Minnesota created a similar ordinance," she wrote.

Therefore, she wrote, the Dayton law is "void and invalid." And the three plaintiffs may reside in the home.

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