Covington City Council members agreed to form a committee at their next meeting that would address filming issues in neighborhoods after several residents and businesses discussed the pros and cons of having "The Vampire Diaries" film in Covington.
Mayor Ronnie Johnston told the council that he would like them to bring in suggestions of who should serve on a committee that would primarily focus on setting guidelines for filming crews in the city. Johnston said he would like the committee to consist of residents, business owners and representatives from Bonanza Productions, which films "The Vampire Diaries."
"Covington is obviously the Hollywood of the South. We are what we are and we need get a little bit friendlier to our residents and to the filming," Johnston said. "I think it's time we actually put together a committee and actually look at those things."
Nancy Whirley, owner of Speedway Properties, said she has several rental properties on Thomson Avenue and she has received numerous complaints from her residents who live there.
"When there is filming, it's not just the hours of how long they film at night, it's how early they start in the morning and how many people hang out all night in the streets with all the equipment," Whirley said.
Whirley passed along several pictures to the council, which showed porter potties in front of some of the homes and trucks and crews parked along the streets.
Christina Cabe, a resident on Thomson Avenue, said she has talked with her neighbors and they have all complained of disruptions from the filming crews, but they did not feel comfortable approaching council. Cabe sent the council a detailed letter in October, which addressed all of the issues she and residents have had since filming began.
"I'm not saying that I don't want filming in Covington; I'm all for it. But I'm asking that you all please consider the full impact on all the residents and that you all try to look after our well-being first please," Cabe said. "I need you all to address when they start during the day not only when they end."
While residents shared their complaints with the council, a few business owners said they understood that there were inconveniences, but at the same time, their businesses have been positively impacted.
Andrea Smith, owner of Square Perk, said her sales have more than doubled since "The Vampire Diaries" began filming on the square.
"That is money that I can put towards improvements in my store, towards training my employees, towards things to make us a better coffee shop to the entire community," Smith said.
She said even though her business has brought in more revenue, there are still issues that need to be looked at.
"Parking has become an issue when they were filming directly on the square. I do think these are issues that can be addressed. I would really ask that this is not an all or nothing kind of thing. There are some things that can be adjusted, don't consider banning the filming because it is a huge impact financially," Smith said.
Jessica Lowery, who runs the Mystic Fall Tours, organized a petition which had more than 700 signatures of people who supported filming being done in Covington. Lowery said over the last couple weeks, she has talked to people who have come to visit Covington from places like London, Austria, Germany and several other countries.
"All of those people would not have come to visit our small town of Covington if it wasn't for ‘The Vampire Diaries,'" Lowery said.
Johnston and the council agreed that they did not want to eliminate filming in Covington and the formed committee would come to a solution for everybody. Council member Hawnethia Williams said she would hope the committee would put the citizens first and not focus on the money aspect of filming.
"I think a lot of our citizens feel that we put them first because of the money issues," Williams said. "I want the residents to feel as equally involved in what we do because at the end of the day, our citizens are still here when the industries are gone."