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East Hampton Town film permit plan rejected by board

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 Thursday against proposed legislation that would have required film permits for professional productions on private property after local film industry representatives raised concerns about imposing restrictions on small photography sessions.

The board was split in a 3-2 decision after Councilmen Peter Van Scoyoc and Fred Overton said they wanted to review a request made by a producer and a film scout to exempt photography crews with 20 people or less from the law.

“I’ve never received a complaint about a still shoot,” Van Scoyoc said. “I would rather wait to require a permit until we’ve established there is a problem with that aspect of the film industry.”

The legislation, which was first proposed in January, would have mandated that photo productions on private property apply for permits from the town seven days in advance. Video shoots would have needed to give 14 days notice. Productions on public property are already required to obtain permits.

At a public hearing held before the vote, location scout Jenny Landey and producer Holly Li said small photo shoots often are not planned more than a week in advance, which would make it difficult for them to apply for a permit within the town’s proposed time frame.

“Let’s not discourage them from coming out to our area,” Landey, of Jenny Landey Locations in East Hampton, said while touting the economic benefits that productions bring to the town.

Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell, who voted in support of the law with Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, said permits would let officials know where all film shoots are located in case they need to respond to a problem with noise or safety.

“I don’t see any reason why this can’t work out,” Cantwell said before the vote, noting he felt the law accommodated most of the concerns raised in previous discussions.

Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, Van Scoyoc and Overton voted against the law. Van Scoyoc said he supported the other pieces of the legislation and expects the law will be reintroduced after the board discusses the proposed revision.

A vote had not been scheduled for Thursday’s board meeting, but Burke-Gonzalez moved to add it to the agenda at the end.

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