By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
A proposal to implement a permit system to film in Red Bank may fall flat before it goes to a vote. In putting that idea on the shelf, the borough council pulled a controversial taxi ordinance back to the forefront after a brief summer hiatus.
As far as the film ordinance goes, some council members object to its purpose, to require film crews to apply for a permit, which would come with a fee. The idea was introduced last month to keep tabs on video activity in town and ensure production crews are following local laws.
It’s a little too Big Brother for councilmen Michael DuPont and Art Murphy.
“To me, it’s just too much government over a single thing,” Murphy said.
DuPont suggested the ordinance be scrapped all together.
“I don’t know why we don’t just vote it down immediately,” he said. “I don’t know if we have that great of a need for this type of ordinance.”
Mayor Pasquale Menna feels different about it. Red Bank has become a desirable place to shoot video, and will continue to grow as a destination for commercials and movies, he said. The fees proposed for permits, which range from $250 to $1,500, are commensurate with the services provided by the borough, like sidewalk closures and police assistance, Menna said.
But Murphy argues that while there has been a recent rise in filming, there was a time not long ago, like when Kevin Smith was spending a lot of time in town, when Red Bank was host to more, and larger, productions and there was no ordinance in place. And now is not the time to add another layer of regulation, he said.
“In a time like now, we’re trying to promote the downtown. It’s just another hurdle,” Murphy said.
The council didn’t come to an agreement on what to do with the ordinance, so it was tabled.
It did, however, resurrect talks about a proposal to make changes to the borough’s existing taxi ordinance. After an early summer string of meetings discussing the changes, to tighten controls on the licenses and increase the fees for them, the idea had been tabled so borough officials could get input from cab companies and review the fee system.
But it has taken too long for Murphy, who asked Menna to put the ordinance on the next meeting’s agenda.
“We’ve got to move on this or else you talk it to death,” Menna said.
Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels scheduled a meeting at for 2p on October 4 at borough hall for anybody interested in the ordinance to provide input on the changes.