Developers Plan to Exclude

Sex Offenders From Homes

LUBBOCK, Tex. -- The sales pitch for the planned Milwaukee Ridge subdivision goes beyond the usual vision of attractive homes and amenities: Homebuyers will be required to pass criminal background checks, and no convicted sex offenders will be allowed.

The idea was inspired by the killings of two Florida girls -- Jessica Lunsford, 9, and Sarah Lunde, 13 -- allegedly by registered sex offenders, partner Clayton Isom said.

Isom and the other two developers own a 213-acre parcel and plan to subdivide it for 665 houses that will be priced from $100,000 to $150,000.

Builders agreeing to the terms will run background checks on buyers and any juveniles expected to live in the homes. They could be penalized if they sell, even unknowingly, 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. The developers promise 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.

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

* PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- A magnitude-5.6 earthquake 20 miles south of Palm Springs shook most of Southern California early Sunday, rattling nerves along with homes and businesses. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, officials said.

* PHILADELPHIA -- Five young children were killed in a fire that swept through a rowhouse, and fire officials said security bars in the windows slowed rescue attempts. Two adults escaped by jumping from a second-floor window but were seriously injured. Officials would not release the names or ages of the victims, but neighbors said the boy and four girls, three siblings and two cousins, ranged in age from 6 months to 6 years.

* Police patrolling U.S. highways tend to give motorists a cushion of up to 10 mph above the speed limit before pulling them over, according to a survey by a group of state traffic safety officials. The practice creates an unsafe comfort level at high speeds and is a potential safety hazard, the Governors Highway Safety Association said. It found that 42 states allow drivers to regularly exceed the speed limit before they are stopped.

* PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The remnants of Tropical Storm Arlene spread rain into the Ohio Valley after breezing through the South with little damage other than power outages and street flooding. Arlene had threatened to strengthen to a minimal hurricane after plowing past the western tip of Cuba, but it had sustained winds of only about 60 mph when it arrived Saturday and quickly weakened to a tropical depression.

-- From News Services