A plan for 28.65 acres of unzoned property in Horseshoe Bend for satellite parking for Shady Gators Waterfront Bar & Grill, a country store and nightly rental cabins were recommended for approval by the Camden County Planning Commission — with a few stipulations — Wednesday evening.

A plan for 28.65 acres of unzoned property in Horseshoe Bend for satellite parking for Shady Gators Waterfront Bar & Grill, a country store and nightly rental cabins were recommended for approval by the Camden County Planning Commission — with a few stipulations — Wednesday evening.

After months of negotiations and withdrawals of two prior proposals, Gary and Andy Prewitt presented a proposal March 19 for B-2, general commercial, zoning for the property with a planned unit development (PUD) for resort-type rental cabins on approximately 22 acres of the property. The tract is located along Bittersweet Rd. between Anemone and Primrose roads.

Due to confusion over the boundary of The Village of Four Seasons, the property went unzoned during the initial mapping for zoning by the county. As an unzoned property, the applicant for the case is Camden County P&Z.

At the April 16 meeting, the planning commission broke the proposal down and voted on each separate part.

With the planning commission's recommendation, the county commission will hold its own public hearing next month before making the final decision on the zoning.

A crowd of around 40 people attended the March 19 meeting in support of the proposal from the Prewitts with several giving testimony in their favor. A few also spoke out with concerns.

Since then, the planning commission has received 101 letters opposing the plan after a homeowners association communication spread the word to property owners in the neighborhood who do not live here full time. Only a handful of letters were received in support of the commercial zoning.

However, the letters were received after the legal open comment period following the hearing, according to Chair Jerry Carroll.

One property owner from St. Louis tried to speak about his concerns with the plan, saying he had not known of the public hearing last month. He was not allowed to continue as the public hearing portion was closed for the planning commission, but was advised that he could speak at the county commission hearing on the case.

Parking lot

While B-2 was proposed, the planning commission recommended the 2.2 acres designated for the parking area to be zoned B-1, low impact commercial, which is the minimum needed for commercial parking. With the site located more than 400 feet Shady Gators, the plan includes a variance to the code on the distance requirement. While 152 parking spaces are currently planned, approval is contingent on a parking lot plan that breaks out the number of spaces each for Shady Gators, the rental cabins and workers at the country store as well as shows the number of ADA compliant spaces. A transportation plan is also needed to specify how customers will be taken from Shady Gators to the parking lot in a timely way during peak hours. Other stipulations also include directional lighting and a berm to provide buffering for surrounding properties. There will be a 25-foot setback for the parking lot and the second access point is being moved to another location for traffic concerns. A construction/security trailer will be allowed at the parking lot for security personnel until the country store is built.

Country store

While this has been called a convenience store in P&Z staff reports, Gary Prewitt said it would actually be more of a "country store" after concerns from the planning commission that it would be open 24 hours. In addition to the security office for the parking lot, the store will also house the rental cabin office. Prewitt said the store would only be open to cover normal check-in times likely around 7 a.m.-8 p.m. with a drop box for keys after hours. The planning commission recommended B1 zoning again rather than B2. It also issued a conditional use permit for this portion to allow outdoor seating, but specifically said that the CUP does not cover outdoor music.

Nightly rental cabins

In a more complicated part of the case, the planning commission approved an underlying zoning of R-1, single family residential, for the remaining 22 acres but then approved B-2 zoning in conjunction with the PUD to allow the development of what Gary Prewitt described as high end resort-type cabins. The commission decided to set an underlying zoning differently and separately from the requested B-2 and PUD in case the PUD were to run out after its two year limit without any development. Planning Commissioner Mickey McDuffey expressed concern that this could open the door to development of anything allowed under B-2. Or if no underlying zoning was set separately from the PUD, then the county might again be faced with a case of the land being unzoned. If the county continually extended the PUD to avoid reverting to the unzoned state, it could also cause issues for the development of the site. She asked to set the underlying zoning at R-1. By setting a different and separate zoning from the PUD and attached B-2, if the PUD runs out undeveloped, the property would revert to R-1.

For the developer, the recommendation would mean that the B-2 would only be activated for each phase of the PUD as the county received the final plat for each phase.

While voting was unanimous among the planning commission on the zoning for the parking lot, the zoning and CUP for the country store and the underlying R-1 zoning, McDuffey was the sole vote against the B-2 and PUD.

While McDuffey had stated that the March meeting was her last as she was reaching the end of her term, the county commission has asked her to stay on until they find a replacement which is allowed under state statute.

The motion that was passed approving the B-2 and PUD included quiet hours for the cabin area that would extend from 10 p.m.-9 a.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 11 p.m.-9 a.m. Fridays-Sundays and holidays.

It was also specified that there would be no music allowed at the gazebo and shelter house that are planned as part of the cabin area.