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Different towns, different rules

"The town does have the power to supersede state law on matters that relate to the property and affairs of local government," he said.

Bethlehem Supervisor Sam Messina said that there are no residency requirements in the town and said after looking over the appellate court decision quickly that there are three or four jobs that would need to comply.

He also said that he does believe that positions such as the commissioner of Public Works, director of the Planning Department and the comptroller should be residents of the town. With such significant roles and a substantial staff, he said the people in those position should reside in Bethlehem.

"I think it is good to have them in the town," he said. "Not just for recruiting purposes, but they will get to know the issue better on an ongoing basis."

Messina said he still has to go over the ruling with the Town Board and Potter before any decisions or votes are made.

The Town of Colonie's local law did not specify whether all commissioners or directors are required to be from the town. After an appellate court decision ruled the appointment of Cunningham was invalid because of his residency, the town tried to remedy the situation.

"This is nothing unusual in the state of New York," he said, adding that some municipalities limit it just to the county. "But you don't have to. You can do it statewide or countrywide. At least by doing it within the county, you're getting somebody that lives in the general community and the like."

Doug Rose, an attorney for Tulley, Rinckey and Associated, PLLC, said that in most cases, New York State law supersedes town laws. But there are some provisions that allow towns to amend laws if it is stricter.

"If town law has more stringent provisions, then town law might apply if the state law allows the town law to apply." He said. "If it would make it less restrictive, state law would apply."

With the Municipal Home Rule Law, he said that would be the provision that would allow the town to make amendments to the local law. ""

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