Council mulls residency requirement

The Town Council has proposed amending the town charter’s six-month residency requirement for the next town manager.

The proposed amendment would increase time a town manager has to become a Bedford resident from 6 months to 18 months.

Town Councilors Bill Dermody (chairman), Ken Peterson, Mac McMahan, Bill Jean, Chris Bandazian,
and acting Town Manager Crystal Dionne were in attendance June 27 to discuss the issue.

“To address why now; there were a couple of changes which were identified last year and never came to place. But the push to address them came from the search to fulfill the next town manager,” Bandazian said. “According to MRI ,there are a few high-power town manager candidates who will not apply for the Bedford town manager position because of the residency requirement.”

Bandazian also said there were several things that
the next town manager needed to consider when moving
to Bedford, such as carrying two mortgages, his or her
spouse finding a job, and moving their children to a new school.

“The current residency requirement is six months; we would like to extend that to 18 months to give the next town manager two real estate seasons,” Bandazian said.

Dermody led the discussion, which included statements from residents Elaine Teft and Roy Stewart.

“I rise in opposition to the 18-month change. I think the word here is resident and being a resident. You can be a resident by renting property and not buying,” Teft said. “I have several concerns if we extend it. I think it’s important that we have accessibility, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think we should give someone a free trial period to decide whether or not he wants to become a resident.”

“It’s not needed. The approved candidate backed out because it was difficult to sell his home in Maine and find a new home in Bedford. He and his wife should have explored this before applying. In this real estate market, selling a home could take a matter of days,” Stewart said. “Both the selection and his wife had elderly parents, and it was a three-hour drive from Maine, which he should have thought of before applying. Housing and family should be directed to applicants early on so that they can withdraw if need be. If this is done, there will be no need to extend the residency requirement.”

Dermody said the decision to put the discussed amendments to the charter on the September election ballot will be determined at the next Town Council meeting.

Katelyn Dobbs can be reached at 594-6549 or kdobbs@