Lavallette officials last week adopted an ordinance that will govern commercial filming in the borough, following an uptick in interest by producers to tape television shows and films in town.
The ordinance had already been drafted at the time the borough was faced with a request to film a spinoff of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” in town – a request that was unanimously rejected by the council. But beyond the raucous reputation of Jersey Shore, other film crews have traveled to Lavallette, sometimes with mixed results, leading officials to act.
“Last year we had a film crew come in, and they took up all of Washington Avenue,” said Mayor Walter LaCicero.
The crew arrived unannounced with vehicles, catering and a full staff, leading to traffic and parking issues.
“We may not object to it, but you have to ask us and we have to make sure it doesn’t determine any of the terms of the ordinance,” the mayor said.
The ordinance requires production companies to fill out a “lengthy” permit application that details a number of variables based on past filming that has been done in town. The permit will ask for relevant dates and times, locations, and the permit will only be valid for the time periods approved.
“The ordinance committee had a draft some time ago, and we updated it based upon some experience,” said Borough Attorney Philip G. George, noting that the ordinance exempts news coverage and personal video recordings.
Productions companies, George said, will be required to notify the borough in advance as to any street closures or utility connections. Permits may be granted for five days at a time, and longer-term filming will require a special long term permit.
“Any construction or electrical needs that tie into utilities have to be regulated and permitted,” George said. “We did try to think through the process of what an organization would need to do when they come in and start shooting.”
Previously, the borough handled film requests under its long-standing facilities use permit form, but as requests increased in both volume and intensity recently, the council felt it necessary to create a dedicated permitting system.
“It’s a lengthy procedure, and there are now all kinds of standards if you receive a permit,” said Councilwoman Joanne Filippone. ” It’s not a free-for-all, for sure.”