Murrells Inlet reality TV show: Harsh feelings remain about appeal denied by ZBA
MURRELLS INLET S.C. — A week after the Georgetown County Zoning Board of Appeals voted against Warren Stedman’s appeal that the county’s zoning official erroneously granted temporary use permits for construction trailers near Kings Krest for filming of a reality show, disappointment and some hard feelings remain.
The ZBA voted 4-1 on Sept. 5 that the permits were allowable and Boyd Johnson, the building and zoning official, did not overstep his authority.
Stedman, who lives three doors down from the filming, expressed his disappointment Monday, but would not comment on whether he intended to take additional action in an attempt to have the permits revoked.
“I’m still disappointed,” Stedman said. “I had hoped the board would see our point.”
Stedman had contended that filming at Kings Krest, which is in a residential area, and temporary use permits issued for trailers on the site near the rental home, were improperly issued by the county.
A California company, 495 Productions, had rented Kings Krest to film a reality show that is scheduled to be shown on CMT beginning in November. Filming at the house went on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Leon Rice, whose property adjoins Kings Krest, spoke in support of Stedman’s challenge. Rice pointed out that granting the permits for the trailers allowed “the whole deal.
It enabled a film company from Los Angeles to come in and take over Kings Krest. It overwhelmed the whole neighborhood.”
Rice said that the film company put a hot tub in the front yard, they dug a fire pit in the front yard and installed floodlights on the dock and in the yard.
Rice pointed out that had the trailers been used for construction, the workers would have had to quit at 5 p.m. and gone home.
The filming, which began in late July and continued through the end of August, roused harsh feelings in Murrells Inlet and led to a number of complaints regarding the behavior of the cast.
On more than one occasion, sheriff’s officials were called to the filming site because of noise complaints, although only one citation was issued.
Gary Weinreich also spoke in support of Stedman’s challenge, outlining 14 points that he contended showed how Johnson’s ruling violated the county’s ordinances.
He contended that when 495 applied for the temporary use permits, the company called the trailers construction trailers, although the permit application noted that the trailers would be used for “offices for taping of a reality show.”
Wesley Bryant, the county’s attorney, argued that the zoning official had the right to issue permits for the trailers, noting that the county’s ordinance did not define contractor’s trailers as specific to construction.
He added that he has also felt the same concerns expressed by Stedman and his supporters, and that he was working on a county ordinance to address filming in the county.
An ordinance to restrict filming in the county was given first reading by title only at Tuesday’s County Council meeting.
Councilman Jerry Oakley, who represents Murrells Inlet, wrote in an e-mail that “an action of [the Zoning Board of Appeals] carries no legal precedent, applies only to that singular piece of property and only to those specific Temporary Permits which were the subject of the appeal. The county needs a comprehensive ordinance which will address all of the issues and provide a permanent remedy. That is my objective.”
Meanwhile, a Facebook page, “We ‘Just Said NO’ to the Dirty South,” sprang up Aug. 6, netting more than 1,500 views and comments in its first week and nearly 2,300 views and comments overall.
That page is still available, although the focus of the page has changed. The page’s owner called the ZBA’s action a “total Breakdown at all levels of Georgetown County Government.
“The final chapter occurred last evening when the Zoning Appeals Board agreed with the County Attorney (Wesley Bryant) and the Zoning Director (Boyd Johnson) who told the board that the Reality Show moving into a residential area violated no zoning laws. They said the disruption to the community was no different than a child’s birthday party or a Tupperware party.
“We’re going to leave this Facebook page active so other communities can learn from our horrible experience. We will ask our followers to post again when the show airs this Fall.
“Because you rallied so powerfully for Murrells Inlet, we may also create new Facebook pages for other important social issues affecting our community. If Murrells Inlet citizens have no voice through our county government and its officials, we certainly have a very clear and loud voice through social media. You should all be very proud in the way you have stood up for all that is wonderful about Murrells Inlet. You have also brought government misdeeds and decisions favoring special interests out of the shadows and into the daylight.”
By Anita Crone
For Inlet Outlook
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