Entanglements and enmity continue to rise over development issues in the Horseshoe Bend area of Camden County.

Entanglements and enmity continue to rise over development issues in the Horseshoe Bend area of Camden County.

A lake-area businessman already involved in a legal dispute with the Camden County Commission over the use of one property as an entertainment venue is now threatening a lawsuit against the county over another property nearby.

Speaking on behalf of Gary D. Prewitt Living Revocable Trust and Enowski Farms, Inc., Lewis Bridges with Curran, Bridges & Bridges Law Firm notified the Camden County Commission in a letter dated July 2, that he had been authorized to file suit in circuit court to prevent a reconsideration by the county planning commission of a conditional use permit (CUP) and planned unit development (PUD) on previously unzoned land located on Bittersweet Rd. that has been proposed for development with a general store and outdoor dining, related parking and resort cabins.

The land had gone accidently unzoned for a number of years as county officials had mistakenly believed the property to be within the jurisdiction of the Village of Four Seasons.

In recent months, Gary and Andy Prewitt finalized their plan for the 28.65 acre property and submitted their requests for zoning and related overlays for development. The county planning commission reviewed the proposal in March and in April made its own recommendations for the zonings of the property along with related CUPs and a PUD.

At the June 19 hearing by the county commission, the overall tract was given an "underlying" zoning of R-1 (low density residential). A 2.2 acre portion of that tract did have its zoning finalized at B-1 low density commercial in order for a satellite parking lot for Prewitt's Shady Gators Waterfront Bar & Grill to go forward, hopefully alleviating traffic problems from overflow parking in the street.

The proposal to put a general store with outdoor dining and nightly rental cabins on the other 26.45 acres was sent back to the planning commission.

The county commission sent part of the development proposal back to the planning commission for further review after receiving more than 200 letters from residents in the area opposed to commercial development at the site. Many of these letters were received too late for the planning commission to consider in its review and recommendation in April.

The mechanics of the reconsideration are what are in dispute.

The letter on behalf of Prewitt and Enowski argues against the planning commission reconsidering the CUP on the general store portion and the PUD on the 22 acres of resort cabins — not the B-1 zoning.

According to the letter from the law firm, the Camden County Land Use Code provides that all matters may be appealed only to the Camden County Board of Adjustment within 60 days of the entry of the decisions. With CUPs and PUDs approved by the planning commission — not the county commission — Bridges contended that the decision was made more than two months ago on April 16.

"It is our position that the approval of the Planned Unit Development on the 22 acres and Conditional Use Permit on the 4 acre parcel are no longer subject to review because the appeal time has run," the letter states, citing Section 501 of the County Land Use Code.

"It is therefore our position that the decisions of the Planning Commission establishing the Planned Unit Development and the Conditional Use Permit on the 4 acre parking lot parcel can now only be amended pursuant to the provisions of the Camden County Land Use Code. They cannot be rescinded. ... No such appeal was filed by any public official or by any other person," it goes on to say.

Presiding Commission Kris Franken spoke generally about CUPs and PUDs in an emailed response statement to Lake Media.

While CUPs and PUDs are granted solely by the planning commission, he said that CUPs and PUDs have only conditional approval from the planning commission and are contingent on the underlying zoning which must be approved by the county commission.

In this case, the related zoning has not yet been approved, so contingent approval may beg the question of whether the CUP and PUD were "decided" when the planning commission voted on them or if the 60-day appeal period is activated when the county commission approves zoning.

Franken further states, however, that "any previously approved PUD or CUP may be reviewed by the Planning Commission at any of their meetings so long as it has properly noticed."

According to Franken, his reason for voting to send the zoning back to the planning commission — he did not mention the CUP or PUD — was due to the letters received against the proposal that were not available for the planning commission to review, not due to some residents' claims of lack of notice about the planning commission hearing on the case in March.

"I think that the Planning Commission should review the letters and let them weigh into their decision. That is my stand on the issue," he commented. "Regarding a lawsuit, I hope that we don't have to go that route, but I think that we are operating within the scope of our Planning and Zoning program handling the issue the way that we have."

It should be noted that nothing related to the case is listed on the agenda for the July 16 planning commission meeting.

Prewitt is also in an ongoing legal battle with Camden County over the injunction filed by the county commission in December 2010 to stop the operation of Lazy Gators.

Prewitt's company Glacier Park Investments, LLC owns Lazy Gators and the adjacent lakeside restaurant and bar, Shady Gators.

Since opening on Sweet William Rd. in 2009, Lazy Gators has operated under Shady Gators' catering license after the planning commission and county commission denied requests to rezone the property to commercial. A pool, tiki bars and cabanas are operated at Lazy Gators despite the property being considered by the county to be zoned R-1. Under these circumstances, Lazy Gators has continued operations arguing that patrons are technically guests at private parties.

After being in the court system for three years, the case was placed on the dismissal docket Jan. 1, 2014 per Local Rule 37.1 to be dismissed on March 17, 2014 unless good cause could be shown for removal from the dismissal docket. On Jan. 27, the county commission's attorney filed a motion — that was successful — to remove the case from the dismissal docket.

The case is now being heard by Judge Ralph Jaynes. In May, Camden County P&Z Attorney Robert Ryan Harding filed a proposed scheduling order with trial dates as ordered by the judge. The defendant has not yet filed a scheduling order as the attorney for Glacier Park Investments and Gary Prewitt — Christine Hutson —has withdrawn from the case.

According to Case.net, the defendant was given until July 7 to obtain new counsel.

Counsel for Glacier Park Investments has also withdrawn in its petition against Camden County over the R-1 zoning of the Lazy Gators property. The suit by plaintiff Glacier Park was filed in May 2009.