A lake area developer who is no stranger to controversy is bulldozing a portion of a 32-acre parcel of land on Horseshoe Bend to make way for a parking lot.

A lake area developer who is no stranger to controversy is bulldozing a portion of a 32-acre parcel of land on Horseshoe Bend to make way for a parking lot.

Developer Gary Prewitt says the parking lot is something the county has wanted for more than five years to ease the problems near several entertainment venues at the end of Horseshoe Bend. During the season, congestion along streets in the area due to development of Camden on the Lake and Shady Gators/Lazy Gators across the cove has forced the county to enforce its own parking regulations.

Prewitt's situation with the county will depend on how many acres he clears. If he clears one acre or less, there may not be much the county can do. However, the county requires a permit for anything over one acre. Prewitt did acquire the necessary land disturbance permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

According to Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken, the county is assessing the scope of the work that is being conducted. It is his understanding that Prewitt will be filing an application later this week.

Zoning is another issue. At this time, there is no zoning and that may be the crux of the problems Prewitt and the county face.

In an effort to solve the problem earlier this year, Prewitt purchased 32 acres of undeveloped land in close proximity to the Gator complex and began planning construction of a parking lot. Plans called for a significant green-space on the perimeter of the property. During negotiations with the county commission and planning and zoning director it was discovered that the 32-acre tract has no zoning at all.

The 32 acres was completely left out of all zoning maps, including the one certified by then-county commissioners in 2004 when Camden County planning and zoning was implemented. It has no zoning whatsoever at this point.

The 32-acre plot now in question shows up on the county’s zoning map as a white area in stark contrast to the colors denoting zoning all around, he said.

Prewitt worked with the county toward an agreement on appropriate zoning but was unable to come to any type of agreement that would allow the parking lot. The Camden County Planning and Zoning office has sent Prewitt a certified letter saying the 32-acre property will “receive a zoning designation of R-1 Low Density Residential” which would not allow the property to be used as a parking lot.

"So, the county has demanded additional parking for Gator, stood firmly in the way of construction of a parking facility and now seeks to retroactively zone a piece of property left off zoning maps for nearly 20 years to suit themselves and deny the owner proper use of the ground. Camden County wants to retroactively rezone the property so that the use of the property as a parking lot is illegal," Prewitt said in a statement released earlier this week.

Prewitt said on Camden County’s Future Development Map, the Shady Gator/Lazy Gator area is designated as a Lakeshore Activity Center. Planners often use future-use maps to determine appropriate zoning changes.

“I want to assure the people on Horseshoe Bend that this project will be done properly. There will be a green zone screening the parking lot,” Prewitt said. “This will be a positive development for the area.”

Associate Commissioner Cliff Luber said as long as Prewitt builds the parking lot within accordance of the law, it is a positive for the residents of Horseshoe Bend to alleviate the traffic congestion and other issues they have had to deal with for several years.

Shady Gators needs to have both adequate parking and larger conveyances to shuttle the patrons to and from their establishment, regardless of the result of the lawsuit regarding Lazy Gators.

Prewitt and the county continue to be involved in litigation over the zoning for Lazy Gators. The property is zoned single family residential. Prewitt cntinues to do business under a catering license, bypassing the county's zoning regulations.

Prewitt is the developer of Prewitt Point in Osage Beach and Eagles Landing in Lake Ozark.