In a press release issued by Camden County, the planning and zoning administrator acknowledges the commission and their legal representatives have been involved in negotiations with Gary Prewitt, the developer of Shady Gators to resolve zoning issues.
The zoning discussions appear to have opened the door to talks about zoning a 30-acre parcel of land that has never been properly zoned to make way for a parking lot.
The press release was issued in response to an article about parking issues that ran in a recent Weekend Lake Sun. In the article, Prewitt discussed the failure to resolve parking problems near the Gator venues and Camden on the Lake. He did not discuss the zoning issue in the article.
Camden County and Prewitt have been in litigation for several years over the zoning of the Lazy Gators property. The county has, so far, been unsuccessful in shutting the venue down. Prewitt operates under a catering license.
In spite of the negotiations, there was no resolution. County officials have confirmed there has been nothing submitted to planning and zoning for consideration.
In the release, Camden County Planning and Zoning Administrator Don Hathaway said he, in conjunction with the Commissioners Kris Franken, Beverly Thomas and Cliff Luber, along with Ryan Harding, counsel for the planning and zoning, entered into discussions with Prewitt and his legal staff, at their request, to review possible options for layout and rezoning of the Lazy Gators property on Sweet Williams Rd. in the Horseshoe Bend area.
Hathaway said the proceedings were instigated under closed door policies and at the request of Prewitt's legal counsel. The county agreed to nondisclosure of the proceedings until after his formal submittal of an application for rezoning or permits to construct the related projects.
The meetings were held on on March 28, April 16 and April 30, 2013.
Hathaway said Prewitt did submit sketch plans to planning and zoning at the first meeting for proposed site options for the Lazy Gators complex. The issues of required parking for the development which is currently deficient, sanitary sewer facilities upgrades, and public transportation and street improvements, were all discussed as possible infrastructure improvements that would require verification of adequacy for any expansion of the development to proceed. Required platting, and permitting for the development in accordance with provisions of the Unified Land Use Code were also outlined.
Rezoning approval from the Planning Commission from the current R-1 to B-1 or B-2 district, with Conditional Use Permit, was discussed as a requirement for any outdoor entertainment activity. The last submittal for review on possible rezoning and site plan approval appeared to propose use of the property similar to the current level of use with added restrooms and reference to a marina.
Page 2 of 2 - Hathaway said it was when the two sides got together a second time that the discussions shifted from the issues of rezoning of the Lazy Gators Complex, to a request for review of a potential satellite parking lot located near the Gators complex.
Hathaway said discussions and reviews with their engineer were ongoing and the county conducted a plan review for the parking lot ahead of an actual application for construction. That was done, he said, to provide the developer and engineer the necessary ULC code requirements for storm water management and erosion control along with zoning review of the proposed parking lot site that was necessary to allow B-1 zoning of the parking lot while providing the necessary required buffer zones and screening for the proposed parking where adjacent to residential districts.
Hathaway said "it is imperative that all construction projects in Camden County receive the same direction and abide by the same applicable code provisions for compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations."
The plans for the parking lot construction were submitted for the project and reviewed with their engineer, Miller Companies. The revised plans were complete and ready for issuance of permit subject to zoning and platting approval by the planning and zoning commission and final approval by the county commission.
As with any project in the county grading and land disturbance permit issuance was not dependent upon zoning approval, and was offered as an option to accelerate the construction at the site, however the permanent parking lot improvement installations and use of the lot was dependent upon securing zoning approval through Preliminary Plat and Development Plan approval with proposed B-1 rezoning request property filed with the County Planning & Zoning office, according to Hathaway.
The offer of At-Risk permits was also discussed and offered by commissioners to Prewitt. He was informed, Hathaway said, of the required conditions that would allow the county to issue an at-risk permit. The conditions included approval of rezoning could be issued upon as well as a preliminary plat/development plan, prior to final approval by the county commission.