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Murrells Inlet: Neighbor of reality show gets ‘day in court,’ so does producer

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Warren Stedman of Murrells Inlet says he’s looking forward to his day in court before the Georgetown County Zoning Board of Appeals next week to challenge the county’s permits that allowed filming of a reality TV show in his neighborhood and ask that it not be allowed to return next year.

A producer of the show, Clayton E. Vannortwick, 30, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., will have his own day in court after being cited by the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office for a noise violation last week.

The show began filming this month and prompted complaints from inlet residents about how the community will be portrayed. Until last week, there had been no calls to the creekfront location, Sheriff Lane Cribb said.

“We’ve been out there to talk with them a couple of times,” he said last Monday, but there had been no problems reported.

But the next night, Stedman told sheriff’s deputy James Cattrano that cast members of the reality show “Party Down South” were doing a lot of “hooting and hollering” on the evening before public school started. Stedman said the noise coming from the back yard at King’s Krest, the marshfront house rented for the show’s filming, was so loud his daughter couldn’t get to sleep.

When Stedman approached a cast member about the noise he was answered with cursing, according to the report.

Stedman could not identify the cast member but said he wanted to file charges.

Investigator John Magann joined deputy Cattrano in going to the production site. They reported hearing no noise at all. They met with Vannortwick and explained that a complaint had been made. He gave the officers his identification and was issued a ticket for violation of the county noise ordinance.

He will be required to appear at the Murrells Inlet magistrate’s office Sept. 12 at 10 a.m. The fine will be $214.46 plus additional charges of $204.81, state assessment; $5, S.C. Criminal Justice Academy training; $25, law enforcement funding surcharge; $25, victim conviction surcharge; and $25.73, victim services. The total is $500.

Cattrano’s report said he heard no loud noises, and the cast and crew boarded a bus to go film at another location.

Stedman said he hasn’t heard a thing since the charge was filed. “I think they got the message,” he said.

The reality show has been filming off Indian Hut Road in the western part of the county recently, according to Boyd Johnson, the county planning director.

He said the crew called for information about permits needed to start a large fire and to inquire about problems with the electrical supply. They were referred to the county fire department and Santee Electric Co-op, respectively.

The production was on a 28-day shooting schedule, which should have them wrapping up by the end of this week.

“I thought they’d be gone by now,” Johnson said.

He doesn’t expect them to be around next week when Stedman appears before the Board of Zoning Appeals.

At issue is whether the county was correct in issuing permits for temporary office and storage units for the production. The property is zoned for residential use, but the filming is a commercial activity, Stedman says.

In its report to the appeals board, the staff says the filming wasn’t a factor in its permit decision. There are only nine people occupying the Kings Krest property, which meets the definition of a “family,” just like a beach rental property.

“The fact that they were filmed doesn’t change their status as a family by definition,” according to the staff report.

It notes that the S.C. Film Office lists 311 sites in Georgetown County that are suitable for filming; 149 in residential zoning districts.

The reality show didn’t require closing streets or create congestion, “notable in an area that has a total of four bike weeks per year,” according to the staff report.

“The types of problems that gave people concern were behavioral in nature and should be addressed by law enforcement, not land use regulation,” it concludes.

The board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 5 in County Council chambers.

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