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Officials: Proposed Hall County film ordinance needs some work
Visitors Bureau president: Ordinance thorough, but fees 'markedly off'
Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau, speaks to the Hall County Board of Commissioners Thursday about an ordinance that sets controls on Hollywood filming in Hall County.

An ordinance that sets controls on Hollywood filming in Hall County is drawing concerns for being so restrictive that it might scare off some production crews.

“We want to find a balance where we can still attract film here but also protect our citizens,” said Richard Higgins, Hall County Board of Commissioners chairman. “They do have economic impact, and we don’t want to put something out that will run everybody off.”

The issue, discussed at Thursday night’s commission meeting, came up in response to resident concerns about problems left behind by Hollywood crews — such as property damage — after they’ve wrapped up shooting and left town.

Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau, said her office has served as a camera-ready liaison with the Georgia Film Office for seven years without any ordinance or rules.

“And it’s been a very challenging task to first put the concern for impact to Hall County residents and businesses and then, secondly, the economic impact of projects that could come to Hall County,” she said.

However, “after reviewing (the ordinance), I do see some things that probably need to have some revision or edits based on my experience,” Dickson said.

She said she would express her concerns in an email to commissioners.

“This ordinance is very thorough, I would say,” Dickson said after the meeting.

She said she reviewed the fees being charged by 15-16 other communities and “we’re not really with the pack. It’s like markedly off.”

“We don’t want to give away the farm, but we don’t want to price ourselves out of business, either,” Dickson said.

The ordinance sets up fees, such as $500 per day for road closings and $1,500 per day for use of the Hall County Courthouse.

The county doesn’t have an ordinance in place now. Production companies are supposed to get certain permits for filming, but they don’t always — and that’s a key reason for the ordinance, said Susan Rector, the county’s business licenses manager, at Monday’s commissioner work session.

One of the requirements in the ordinance is to hold a “pre-application meeting” between the production company and Hall County to ensure proper filming takes place.

Crews must specify a lot of things, including when and where they plan to film and “an estimate of the maximum number of attendees expected at the filming during each day and time.”

Overall, the new law is intended to “protect Hall County and its residents from being unreasonably impacted (and) preserve the peace and comfort of its residents.”

It also is intended to “assure that such activities are consistent with considerations of public health, safety and general welfare.”