Holmes Beach film ordinance makes first cut

Following several takes on the subject at previous meetings, Holmes Beach commissioners unanimously agreed Jan. 25 to add a new commercial film production subsection to its land-development code.

The addition was prompted by the Manatee County Commission’s adoption of an ordinance that establishes a unified film permitting process throughout the county.

Municipalities are being asked to partner with the county and adopt its ordinance.

The ordinance establishes the position of a film commissioner to oversee commercial film project requests and permitting throughout the county. Thus, filmmakers will have a central office and contact to work with.

City attorney Patricia Petruff highlighted adjustments made to the ordinance that keep the city’s best interest in mind.

First, Holmes Beach borrowed its definition of filming operations from the Anna Maria commercial film-production ordinance. Petruff said that Anna Maria City’s definition was more inclusive.

It defines film operations as those necessary to carry out “motion picture filming, television filming, commercial advertising operations, and print media operations along with all similar operations that use motion picture film, videotape, audiotape or still photography.”

The county’s ordinance defines commercial filming simply as capturing moving images on film and video along with sound recordings.

The Holmes Beach ordinance also specifies that the film commissioner will be responsible for permitting requests on all city property, not just county operated property within the city.

Another change requires the film commissioner to coordinate with the Holmes Beach mayor or a designated liaison prior to approving any application and any non-standard terms that may be required.

Petruff said the city’s ordinance does not grant the right to use city-owned equipment or city personnel. That it will be up to the mayor to approve requests.

The city also retains its enforcement rights and may shut down operations if not properly permitted.

Petruff said she provided a copy of the amended ordinance to Elliott Falcione at the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for review. Falcione is the CVB executive director and likely to become the designated film commissioner.

Petruff told the commission that she expects to receive feedback from Falcione before the commission’s second reading of the ordinance.

In other business Jan. 25, the commission was unable to proceed with the second reading of the police pension fund amendment.

The commission previously raised questions regarding the calculation of unused sick time for police department staff entering the deferred-retirement option plan. As the ordinance reads now, it appears officers would be compensated for unused time upon entering DROP, while also retaining the ability to

bank sick days for use during the DROP period.

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger objected that if an officer in the DROP uses those hours, the officer will be getting paid for those hours twice.

On Petruff’s advice, the city has retained attorney James Linn of Lewis, Longman and Walker in Tallahassee to review the proposed amendment. Petruff said Linn has expertise in pension fund law and will not only be able to address the commission’s specific questions but will also review the overall plan.

The second reading was continued to the next commission meeting.

The commission approved the following reappointments: Michael Farrup to the code enforcement board and Jerry West and Melissa Snyder to the parks and beautification committee.

The commission’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, in the city hall chambers, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

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