After hours of testimony on the plan for a property on Bittersweet Rd. between Anemone and Primrose roads, the Camden County Planning Commission tabled the proposal from Gary D. Prewitt Living Revocable Trust and Enowski Farms, Inc. to consider the new testimony taken after the case was sent back to the planning commission by the county commission.

After hours of testimony on the plan for a property on Bittersweet Rd. between Anemone and Primrose roads, the Camden County Planning Commission tabled the proposal from Gary D. Prewitt Living Revocable Trust and Enowski Farms, Inc. to consider the new testimony taken after the case was sent back to the planning commission by the county commission.

More than 70 residents attended the public hearing Wednesday evening — the second hearing held by the planning commission on the case — to oppose the proposal that would allow for a general store with outdoor dining and nightly rental resort cabins along with more parking in addition to the parking already approved on a portion of the property.

Residents offered arguments against the proposal ranging from legal to emotional appeals, while Prewitt and Enowski attorney Lewis Bridges restated that side's argument that the review proceeding was illegal for the overlays that were part of the proposal. Bridges also argued that the planning commission had made a sound compromise the first time around.

Clouding the water are many legal entanglements surrounding the case.

Part-time resident Mark Dunn, an attorney by profession whose lake property is near the Prewitt property, made a lengthy argument citing pleadings in lawsuits between the Camden County Commission and Gary Prewitt over Lazy Gators which is next to Shady Gators Waterfront Bar & Grill. All three properties are connected to Prewitt, and the case in question has already a portion of the property approved for a commercial satellite parking lot to serve Gators' customers.

Dunn pointed out that Camden County's attorney has argued in its case for an injunction to stop commercial use of Lazy Gators that there is insufficient parking for a business use and and that commercial use is incompatible with the residential area. He argued that the traffic and parking problems in the area have been caused by Lazy Gators which the county commission itself is arguing through the suit is an illegal situation. Yet, the proposal in the case now before the planning commission has largely centered around the need to do something about the traffic and parking problems caused by the business. If approved, the proposal would also add more commercial zoning to the area.

So on the one hand, Dunn argued that the county commission is using thousands of taxpayer dollars to fight Lazy Gators over parking and incompatibility while on the other hand it is potentially chipping away at its own arguments by approving more parking and more commercial use in the area.

All the residents in attendance at the hearing indicated they would rather see the property developed as homes in accordance with R-1 zoning. A letter from the Village of Four Seasons also opposed the commercial use proposed for the property.

Dunn complained of "drunk mobs" leaving the bar causing problems. He and other residents cited instances of traffic incidents, indecent exposure and worse — all leading to lower property values and lower quality of life for residents. They were concerned that the additional commercial use on the property in question would only lead to more of the same.

The satellite parking for Shady Gators that has gone forward at the site is already causing more problems, according to residents, with people in various states of inebriation walking back to the lot rather than waiting on a shuttle. There seems to be little help from the police or security to control the situation, said Dunn and other residents.

There were also complaints about the lighting at the parking lot. They were supposed to be directional lights that light up the parking lot like a football field, said Dunn, and the lights at the off-lake property can be seen from the main channel of the lake.

Dunn argued that the additional commercial use at the property would materially endanger public health and safety in violation of Section 408 of the Unified Land Use Code.

Residents also questioned whether the commercial plan potentially approved by the county would be followed in light of the county's legal issues ongoing with Prewitt.

After the Wednesday hearing, however, Chairman Jerry Carroll said the testimony overall was "thought provoking" but that the board could not consider the Lazy Gators case in its decision for the parking lot property as it was still under litigation and was a separate property. He also indicated that the board could not consider enforcement issues as that was a separate part of planning and zoning that didn't have anything to do with the planning commission. He said all they could consider was the plan before them.

Carroll said he was trying to determine what was best for the community - being "torn" over his concerns about the possible intensity of R-1 development on the remaining acreage and concerns about the proposal. With the maximum density for R-1 at four dwelling units per acre, up to 89 houses could potentially be built at the site.


As the county commission attempted to make a final decision on the case at a June hearing, some area residents complained that they had not received notification of the first public hearing held by the planning commission in the spring or that the letters they had subsequently sent in were not considered because they were received too late.

The 28.65 acre tract was undergoing initial zoning after going unzoned for years following the implementation of county zoning in 2004 due to an error that showed the property to be in the Village of Four Seasons.

At the June hearing, the county commission had already approved two parts of the proposal as recommended by the planning commission — underlying zoning of R-1 low density residential for the 28.65 acre tract on Bittersweet and B-1 low impact commercial for a 2.2 acre section of that tract. The commercial area is for a satellite parking lot for Shady Gators Waterfront Bar & Grill.

Proposed B-1 zonings for the rest of the property tied to a conditional use permit (CUP) and a planned unit development (PUD) however, were sent back for another review by the planning commission due to concerns over the letters not being received in time to be reviewed.

Cabins/nightly lodgings are proposed on 22.6 acres through B-2 zoning to be implemented in phases through a PUD overlay. The remaining 3.8 acres is proposed to have B-2 zoning for more parking and a general/convenience store with a CUP for a gazebo to have outdoor dining.

Since then, the law firm for Prewitt and Enowski has sent a letter to the county commission threatening a lawsuit over the rehearing of the CUP and PUD overlays.

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.

Glacier Park and Prewitt filed a lawsuit in 2009 against Camden County over the R-1 zoning of the Lazy Gators property.

According to Camden County court documents, the county denied commercial zoning for Lazy Gators in 2007 and again in 2008 under separate owners.