Several City Council members reported Monday night that they've had complaints from local merchants and citizens regarding filming of "The Vampire Diaries."
Councilmen Mike Whatley, Keith Dalton and Chris Smith and Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams all said they've been contacted recently about film crews blocking access to businesses and residents and acting in a rude manner.
City Manager Steve Horton said a meeting took place Tuesday in response to concerns by citizens about the first day of filming for the new season of the show, which airs on The CW network.
The production crew blocked off more spaces than usual for the first day of filming, upsetting some merchants, Horton said. However, the crew had permission from the city to do that, with the stipulation that some of the spaces would be opened prior to filming and after the director had time to make an assessment of the day's activities.
"This did occur, but initially some downtown folks took offense to the extra spaces being blocked off," Horton said. ‘Their concern is understandable given that parking is a commodity downtown. Under the circumstances however, I don't know that things could have occurred any differently."
Also addressed was a complaint that a crew member or security guard yelled at a citizen who attempted to cross the Square during filming.
"The location staff for the film crew is going to meet with the citizen and get back with their staff regarding the obvious unacceptable behavior," Horton said.
Though some council members said crews are apparently setting up without notification or regard for nearby businesses or residences, Mayor Kim Carter said all blocking of parking spaces and closing of streets must be permitted through the city, in coordination with the transportation project manager, the police chief and Main Street Covington. Affected property owners are notified either in person or by letter in advance, Carter added, and provided with three phone numbers to call if they have questions or concerns. She said merchants are compensated when parking is blocked.
Horton pointed out that when filming is taking place, there are cars on the Square "from all over creation. I don't know if that makes anybody any money or not."
Dalton said he would support requiring that filming only take place after business hours and on Sundays, but the council did not take action on that recommendation.