- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 12, 2005

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — The sales pitch for this planned subdivision goes beyond the usual vision of attractive homes and amenities — homeowners will be required to pass criminal background checks and no convicted sex offenders will be allowed.

It’s a concept that might prove right for the times, said first-time developer Clayton Isom, one of three partners in a company creating Milwaukee Ridge on the outskirts of this West Texas city.

The idea was inspired, Mr. Isom said, by the killings of two Florida girls — 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford and 13-year-old Sarah Lunde — in which registered sex offenders were accused.

“It makes me sick at my stomach every time I hear one of these stories about these innocent girls,” said Mr. Isom, a graduate student in business administration at Texas Tech University.

Mr. Isom and his two partners in I&S; Investments, all in their early 20s, own a 213-acre parcel and plan to subdivide it for 665 houses. Relatives and other investors are backing the trio. Homes will be priced from $100,000 to $150,000.

Builders agreeing to the development’s terms will run background checks on home buyers and any juveniles expected to live in the homes. They could be penalized if they even unknowingly sell to a convicted sex offender.

Residents will face penalties if they allow a convicted sex offender to live in their homes and will be responsible for checking the backgrounds of potential buyers if they sell. Mr. Isom’s company promises to buy a home back for 85 percent of the lesser of the appraised or market value if builders sell to an offender or if an owner or a resident is convicted of a sex offense.

A homeowner’s association will be the developers’ eyes and ears.

There have been no recent reports of high-profile sex-offender crimes in Lubbock, but the city has 413 registered offenders, ranking it 16th in the state, which has 46,000 registered sex offenders.

The subdivision’s ban appears to be legal, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sex offenders are not a protected class under the Fair Housing Act, HUD spokesman Jerry Brown said.

The ban could give residents a false sense of security since it can’t keep offenders from living near the subdivision, said Katherine Stark, a board member of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “They’re a block away,” she said.

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