Plainfield Revises, Passes Film Permit Ordinance

Corporation Counsel David Minchello, with City Administrator Rick Smiley at right. Credits: Jennifer Popper

PLAINFIELD, NJ - A revised film permit ordinance with reduced fees won final approval from the Plainfield City Council Monday.

Although past filming has taken place in the city with one-time approvals, the administration sought a permit process as part of a move to standardize future production. On Monday, an initial permit fee of $500 per day of filming was reduced to $50 per day and a charge of $750 to use public land was dropped to $250. In addition, nonprofit groups will now be charged a flat $25 fee.

Corporation Counsel David Minchello said the governing body would not have to start all over to enact the legislation, but could amend the terms and pass it Monday. He said he had consulted with Plainfield film producer Lamar Mackson, who compiled “a tiered system” of fees, but said it might be a “burden” on the City Clerk’s office to ​have to ​judge the type of applicant. 

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Mackson did not speak on the changes Monday, but said Tuesday his recommended fee schedule covered four levels of production, from student/nonprofits with budgets up to $10,000 through big feature films with budgets in excess of $1 million.

MORE:  Plainfield Revising New Film Permit Fee Range

Within each category, he suggested variations in fees, number of off-duty police to be hired and ranges of parking permits for production trucks.

He called his recommendations “pretty comprehensive” and said the administration and Minchello were “very gracious” in accepting his proposal, but had apparently decided to go with the original plan. He called the city’s revisions “a good start” and said he is looking forward to working with the community and the administration in “creating a better film-making structure.”

Nancy Piwowar, president of the Historical Society of Plainfield, asked whether films made by the Board of Education or Union County at Drake House Museum would be subject to fees. Minchello said the city had an agreement with the school board to mutually waive fees, though the county might be subject to one.

Piwowar also questioned whether professional film-making at weddings or sweet sixteen parties would be subject the fees, but Minchello said they would not be required.

The revised ordinance is on file in the City Clerk’s office on the first floor of City Hall, 515 Watchung Ave.​

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