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East Hampton to require permits to film on private property

East Hampton Town Hall in East Hampton,

East Hampton Town Hall in East Hampton, Feb. 26, 2016. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The East Hampton Town Board voted Tuesday to approve a law requiring permits for professional filming on private property, less than a week after rejecting the same legislation.

The law passed unanimously after the town’s attorneys said they could not include a sought-after exemption for photo shoots with crews of 20 people or less.

“We did our research to find that carving out an exemption was not a viable option,” Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski said Wednesday. “There were constitutional issues about treating still photography different than video.”

The board was split in a 3-2 vote on April 6 after film industry representatives raised concerns about requiring permits for small print productions. At the time, Councilmen Peter Van Scoyoc and Fred Overton, who voted against the legislation, said they wanted to review the request.

The law will mandate that commercial and educational film shoots apply for permits at least seven days in advance of print productions and at least 14 days ahead of video productions. Productions on public property are already required to obtain permits.

Supervisor Larry Cantwell said “the most important” aspect of the law will assure large-scale productions “are not going to have a negative impact on the neighborhood or the peace of the community, especially during the height of the [summer] season.”

Jenny Landey, who owns a location scouting and photo production company, said she is “disappointed beyond words” that the town’s attorneys were not able to “find a fair and just way to enact the law” with the exemption. She said most small photo shoots are often not planned out more than a week in advance.

“These small shoots have got caught in the larger net that was spread in an attempt to regulate the larger-scale print shoots,” Landey said.

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