New county ordinance sets guidelines to ensure future film projects are community friendly

  • Thursday, October 10, 2013

  • Updated Thursday, October 10, 2013 8:55 pm

Georgetown County Council moved a step closer to regulating filming within the county after giving second reading to the “Film Ordinance” at its regular meeting on Tuesday night.
Filming within the county, whether on public or private property, will now require a permit, payment of a $1,000 permit fee, and submission of a detailed parking plan. The county can charge additional fees for the use of county facilities and staff.
Applications for permits will be have to be submitted at least 45 days before filming is scheduled to start, and county staff will have as long as they want to review and make a decision on the permit. No more than two permits will be issued within 1,000 feet of each other.
Permit holders will be required to have $1 million in general liability insurance, $1 million in automobile liability insurance, and $1 million in worker’s compensation and employer’s liability insurance.
At least 30 days before filming is scheduled to begin, the film company will have to give written notice to all businesses and residents within 500 feet of a filming location. Copies of the notice will also have to be given to the county. The company will not be able to do any filming, staging, site work or preparation in the county before a permit is issued. If a permit is issued, these activities are restricted to the hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in Murrells Inlet and on Waccamaw Neck. Moving of equipment is also restricted to these hours in Murrells Inlet and on Waccamaw Neck.
Any lighting used for filming will have to be shielded from residences and from the ocean after dark.
Use of anything that involves “flames or incendiary devices” will require a permit from a county fire company and will be prohibited in residential areas.
Much of the enforcement of the ordinance lies with the county administrator, who has the right to: determine the number of cast and crew members and what constitutes filming, storage, staging, site work or preparation; limit permits in certain areas; restrict or revoke permits during natural disasters or other emergencies; and cancel, stop filming or issue citations if the ordinance is being violated.
The county administrator also has the right to “change, modify, update or waive” the provisions of the ordinance.
The county Sheriff’s Office can also stop filming and issue citations.
Should any part of the ordinance be ruled non-enforceable by a judge or court, the remainder of the ordinance will stay in effect.
The idea for an ordinance came about after a television production company began filming a reality series in Murrells Inlet. Residents were outraged that the county had given permits for the filming and urged Council to adopt a set of standards for future projects.
Leon Rice lives next door to the house where the series was filmed and was “personally impacted.”
He said his family was “surprised and overwhelmed” when a crew showed up and started filming. He’s read the new ordinance and likes it. He thanked Council for taking action.
The ordinance does not apply to news or press conferences, students working on film projects for school, or a production with a staff or three people or less.
The ordinance went through five major revisions and was reviewed by county staff, attorneys and residents before being presented to County Council.
Final approval is expected at council’s next meeting on Oct. 22.
To read the entire text of the ordinance, go to www.gtowntimes.com.

In other business

n Council approved the purchase of $175,985 worth of firefighting equipment.
The county will spend $90,365 to buy Morning Pride Fire Fighter Bunker Gear from Newton’s Fire and Safety Equipment Co. in Swepsonville, N.C.
Midway Fire Rescue will get 28 sets of pants and coats and 27 sets will go to firefighters in other county unites.
“It’s very good quality gear,” Midway Fire Chief Doug Eggiman told Council. “It’s quality protection at a reasonable price,” and better than the gear they used to buy.
The county will also spend $85,620 to buy 12 ambulance stretchers from Stryker Medical Products in Portage, Mich. Four will be used by Midway.
n Donald Burriss won the county’s first photography contest. The theme was the county’s rivers.
Burriss submitted a picture of an alligator at Thoroughfare Creek near Litchfield.
The county is planning on having photo contests with different themes about four times a year.
n Final approval was given to amend the Charlestowne Grant section of Litchfield By The Sea Planned Development to allow a side yard setback variance at 183 Sea Oates Circle.
The variance will allow an elevator to be added to the house.
n Helen Benso of Murrells Inlet was appointed to the Economic Development Alliance Board.
Council chairman Johnny Morant, and council members Ron Charlton, Lillie Jean Johnson , Austin Beard, Bob Anderson, Jerry Oakley and Leona Myers-Miller were in attendance at the meeting.

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