SUNTREE, Fla. — A large residential development in Brevard
County could end up having one of the most-strict housing policies in
the state in terms of sexual offenders and predators.
According to a recent report
by TV station WESH, the Suntree homeowners association approved the
implementation of a new policy that would ban all convicted sexual
predators and sexual offenders from living in the community. The
amendment to the covenant regarding the matter was voted on during
the Suntree Master Homeowners Association's annual meeting, which
took place on March 15, Florida Today reported.
The Association recently asked its residents to change housing
restrictive covenants, which is essentially approving the expansion
of the zone of protection of city and county ordinances, Florida
The new rule states that convicted sexual offenders and sexual
predators may not live within 3,000 feet of public parks, school-bus
stops, and other areas where children may congregate. Since there are
no homes in Suntree that are more than 3,000 feet of these places,
the rule essentially keeps convicted sexual predators from living
within the boundaries of the community.
Suntree includes 4,500 households as well as day care centers and
schools, according to the Florida Today report.
The new rule came after meetings between the residents and the
Brevard County Sheriff's Office, according to the Florida Today
The meetings discussed the crimes that were taking place on the Space
Coast area of Florida and plans by the surrounding communities to
prevent these crimes from happening before they start.
Fair-housing laws — which protect homeowners and homebuyers from
discrimination based on certain characteristics such as race,
religion, national origin and gender — do not currently protect
those who are convicted sexual offenders. According to Florida
775, section 215, a person who has been convicted of certain
sexual offenses may not be reside within 1,000 feet of a child care
facility, park, playground or school. These laws, plus the fact that
housing covenants usually have more control and power over the
make-up of a neighborhood than those without official guidelines, are
what make lawyers confident that what has been proposed in Suntree
completely legal, Florida Today reported.
Sonia Bosinger, the lawyer for the Suntree Master Homeowners
Association, told Florida
Today that convicted offenders who are already living within the
new 3,000-foot zone may possibly be grandfathered in, with the
decision being decided on a case-by-case basis.
“The restriction is intended to cover all persons qualifying as
sexual predators,” Bosinger said. “However, for any offenders
that may already be residing within the 3,000-foot zone of
protection, Suntree will need to analyze each case individually to
determine the parties' respective rights and obligations.”
Tod Goodyear, who is a spokesperson for Brevard County Sheriff's
WESH that “[h]omeowners associations have the right to enact
covenants for their neighborhoods.”
Last year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
statements about restrictions place on renting and selling to
convicted felons, stating that certain races could be affected
because of the higher number of convictions and arrests of people of
a certain ethnicity.