Town Looks at Film Shoots

After reviewing complaints from residents dating back several years, the East Hampton Town Board is taking a needed step to control film and television shoots on private property. 

Unlike when a film crew is working on a beach, road, or at another government-run site, production companies have been able to operate in houses and business establishments without having to seek a permit. This has resulted in neighborhood disruptions and traffic slowdowns from rubber-neckers. 

The intense use when, for example, a crew on Showtime’s “The Affair” took over a house in Beach Hampton was unacceptable. One concern was that the massive production vans parked on the area’s narrow lanes could prevent access by emergency vehicles in the event of a fire or other call. Since then, the producers have parked their large vehicles elsewhere, though questionably again on private property.

The town has strict rules about how residential properties can be used. Single-family houses are supposed to be just that — residences, not production studios or almost any other for-profit business. The list of what can be conducted in or around a house is notably short, with tight restrictions on parking, among other things. If the town is lenient in one area, there can be ripple effects in others. 

As important as is quality of life, a more overarching issue is the commercial use of residences and the expansion of some businesses for uses not provided for in either the zoning code or on a property’s certificate of occupancy. We all appreciate good entertainment, but it is important that film and television are not afforded special treatment lest the walls come tumbling down for anything else.