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Town considers more stringent permit requirements after Showtime filmed in New Suffolk

The Southold Town Board is discussing changes to filming permits after Showtime shot scenes for its new program “Three Women,” starring Shailene Woodley, in New Suffolk last week. 

Board members said at a town work session on Tuesday that the application had come in only a few days in advance and took up a significant amount of parking in the hamlet, which has an area of only 0.6 square miles. 

“The problem is that their plan was very overwhelming for a small hamlet like New Suffolk,” said Town Supervisor Scott Russell. “They were very good to work with. We raised a lot of concerns and a lot of issues, they ran around trying to mitigate those issues. I think for the most part they did. But what we need in the future is, we really need an application that could have a more thorough review, and set it up similar to the special events — I mean, I personally think we should.”

Town Board member Jill Doherty said she felt the application, because it was so last minute, put the town “up against the wall.” It worked out this time, because Showtime filmed on a rainy day off-season, but the show used “every parking spot in that area.”

“They did not block the road at all, they used the beach parking, so it worked out, but it was also a day where nobody would be down there,” she said. “Say they came in the summer, we would have had issues down there. We wouldn’t have been able to turn that around in two days, like we did this time.”

Ms. Doherty suggested changing applications to require perhaps two-week or 30-day advance notice. “I don’t know what the right time frame is, but I think in the future, we need more time instead of everybody scrambling two days before,” she added.

Town code currently requires completed applications for a film permit to be submitted at least seven days before the shoot date. The application is subject to review from the police department and town attorney’s office. 

Mr. Russell similarly said film applications should require more advance notice, although he suggested setting different standards based on the size of the project. 

“If all of the filming and all the activities are going to be all on the same site, with no need for road use, road parking or anything, you can make that a 10-day permit, quick turnaround,” he said. “But if … it’s going to be a little bit more expansive, you’re relying on public roads and stuff, you could require it up to 30 days in advance.”

Mr. Russell also said a fire department had contacted him with concerns because “a lot of the roads get used in the summer without them understanding in advance,” and proposed sending future permit applications to a designated point person at relevant fire departments.