The Georgetown County Zoning Board of Appeals will hear even more hubbub next month about the ‘Party Down South’ reality show being filmed in Murrells Inlet, which many residents regard as a plague on the marsh.
At last week’s council meeting, residents called for immediate action by council to revoke permits issued for the film crew’s storage units at King’s Krest, a house rented on the marsh in a residential district. The new show doesn’t have a final title yet, but air on CMT. The Burbank, Calif., production company that made “Jersey Shore” famous – 495 Productions – has a contract with CMT for eight episodes of a spin-off, but with a tweak of country living.
Warren Stedman, a Kings Krest neighbor, has filed with the Zoning Board of Appeals to revoke the crew’s permits. The board will hear the request Thursday, Sept. 5 at 5:30 p.m. in the County Council Chambers, 129 Screven St., Georgetown.
“We’ve heard about all the conflict going on around there,” said Stephanie Molina, a CMT representative. “It looks like they’re staying there for the duration of production, but it looks like they’re wrapping up soon.”
To appease some frustrated locals, Molina said a majority of the actual shooting is taking place at another house 45 minutes from Murrells Inlet. Details on the exact location of the house were not available by press time.
“That’s a nice way to alleviate some of the local concerns,” Molina said.
The county issued temporary permits to 495 Production that allow mobile offices and equipment, which is consistent with the current zoning ordinances. The permits are issued by Georgetown County Zoning Board, not County Council.
Even though he said he doesn’t like the show or how it represents Murrells Inlet, Georgetown Council councilman Jerry Oakley said the issue does not concern council.
“This has never involved council, it’s never been before council,” Oakley said.
Permits were necessary, even though the equipment was on private property, because “there are certain things you cannot have on private property without temporary permits, including trailers and equipment,” said Jackie Broach, Georgetown County public information officer.
“There wasn’t any reason not to issue them,” Broach said.
“The council really has nothing to do with the issuance of those permits,” said Tom Swatzel, former Georgetown County councilman.
“I think part of the frustration for the property owners near the filming site is not understanding that, while council sets the zoning rules, they don’t actually issue them,” Swatzel said.
Swatzel said the permits seem to be in order and the crew is complying with county rules, though many residents are still bucking against the reality show’s intrusion. Unknown Murrells Inlet residents created a Facebook group titled “We ‘Just said NO’ to The Dirty South,” which allows residents to rail against the production company as well as the county.
One such post, which has since been removed, encouraged neighbors to “buy a gun and use it on the crew.” Though that comment is the only one that encourages physical violence, many posters vehemently argue against the show’s presence.
“I know there’s been some reports of cast members behaving badly,” Swatzel said, “but I don’t think any of that excuses some of the overheated rhetoric.”
Molina said CMT is aware of the frustrations that come with filming a reality show, and the crew is working hard to wrap up production.
“They’re just trying to get through it as quickly as possible, and we’ll just leave the town as happily as they were before,” Molina said.
Many of the criticisms revolve around the lack of community involvement in the decision to let the reality show into Murrells Inlet.
Temporary permits are similar to building permits, Swatzel said, and no public hearings are required for anyone looking to attain a building permit.
“Some people raise a notion that a public hearing should have been held, but that’s not how it works,” Swatzel said. “Should the county also have county hearings for issuance of every building permit?”
He also pointed out that council could change the zoning ordinance to prohibit future filming in residential areas, but that would also prevent movies and educational shows, including SCETV, from exemplifying the beauty of Murrells Inlet.
Monthly parks meeting scheduled
Georgetown County Parks and Recreation Commission will hold their monthly meeting Monday, Sept. 9 starting at 5 p.m.
The commission will be briefed on current capital projects as well as athletic programs around the county. The meeting will be held at Beck Recreation Center, 2030 Church St., Georgetown.
Contact CLAIRE BYUN at 626-0377 or follow her on Twitter @NeckNews.