Backwater Jacks amphitheater in limbo after denial of rezoning request

Dan Field
Lake Sun Leader

Construction of a 2,000-seat amphitheater near Backwater Jacks in Osage Beach is in limbo after the Osage Beach Planning & Zoning Commission voted 5-4 June 9 to deny a rezoning request that would have allowed for the outdoor entertainment venue. 

Voting in favor of rezoning were John Olivarri, Kellie Schuman, Richard Ross and Susan Ebling. 

Voting against rezoning were Tony Kirn, Don Sturn, Michelle Myler, Don Chisholm and Alan Blair.

Nancy Viselli was absent.

The recommendation not to rezone will be forwarded to the board of aldermen for its consideration at a later meeting, possibly as early as July 2. 

The applicant, Arapaho, LLC, of Eldon, sought rezoning of 14 acres of land some 2,000 feet from Osage Beach Parkway on Sunset Drive from C-1b (commercial lodging) to C-1 General Commercial with an E-3 overlay for the amphitheater. Arapaho is owned by the Gary Prewitt Irrevocable Trust.

The amphitheater issue was brought back to the P&Z Commission after the applicant withdrew the request earlier this year to allow time for a Traffic Impact Assessment.

The property would be accessed from either Sunset Avenue or Beach Drive.

As noted in a letter from Andy Prewitt of Arapaho, LLC, to the Osage Beach Planning Department, the property has remained vacant and wooded for at least 50 years and has not been used for income purposes. The property is located in a valley in the back of Backwater Jacks cove. It is surrounded by wooded hillsides on two sides, a wooded valley on one side and Backwater Jacks on the remaining side. A 185-foot buffer would remain to protect both the existing corridor and their future investments. The buffer would remain A-1 agriculture zoned.

In addressing traffic flow concerns, David Van Leer of CJW Transportation Consultants, determined that no roadway improvements are necessary to accommodate the anticipated increase in vehicles. One of City Planner Cary Patterson’s concern has been the potential impact that additional vehicles on the roadways. The finding from CJW is that the existing infrastructure has the capacity to handle the increased traffic.

Patterson also noted that the rezoning request would not increase the number of docks or boat slips that would be allowed for the property. Any additional customers would come from the city via roadways.

“This is a somewhat different request than we have faced in the past,” Patterson noted. “It will undoubtedly provide the city with some positive economic impact by bringing more people into the community for events. It should provide an expanded customer base for not only Backwater jacks but also the city’s other commercial facilities as well. 

“But we must make sure that the benefits outweigh the impact. I am confident that the proposed location for the facility is likely the best location in the community as the surrounding properties that receive the majority of the impact are owned by the applicant.”

The proposal considered by the P&Z Commission in January resulted in discussion among the commissioners and about 10 citizens about the potential impact of the amphitheater. Those concerns involved traffic flow, noise, damage to roads, possible depravity by boaters, damage to the cove, potential accessibility by emergency vehicles, possible damage to the Lake of the Ozarks watershed, etc.