Deerfield Ponders Pioneering Law Protecting Children
A city that has buildings in every available spot and now is redeveloping some old ones got a glimpse of the future Tuesday. City Attorney Andrew Maurodis introduced what he described as a groundbreaking “compatibility ordinance" inspired by the December 18 commission meeting.
At that meeting, District 1 Commissioner Joe Miller asked if the city could develop some measure addressing child safety in the wake of the school shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead in December 14 in Newtown, Conn. On Tuesday, Maurodis said the courts have limited how far regulations can go, but he said a computerized search of municipal ordinances nationwide revealed nothing quite like the one proposed.
If approved after public hearings, it woud pose new regulations on businesses physically near areas where children congregate. Specifically, it would require every application for development in Deerfield Beach to be reviewed with an eye to its impact on nearby child-friendly locations including schools, parks and some homes.
If approved after public hearings February 12 and March 4, the measure would allow the city to address what it deems are security concerns associated with various types of businesses located in areas near places with children.
So, for example, if a gun shop or a late-night bar locates near a public park or a day care center, certain requirements would apply; employees might be required to have background checks, for example, or a gun shop might be required to build a taller wall between its property and an adjacent residential area.
“We have a compatibility ordinance that has to do with colors and odors and traffic issues. Now we are thinking outside the box,” Maurodis explained of the proposed requirement that applicants agree to mitigate if their proposals are deemed to have an impact on places where children gather. “We spent a lot of time looking at cases on this (and) we haven’t seen anyone do anything like this.”
“We are fine tuning it now,” he added. “On every application, a manditory part of that review will be security concerns…focusing on public and private schools, parks, places that cater to children under age 18…and also a review on some homes.”