Osage Beach to decide fate of Backwater Jack’s amphitheater request Thursday night


The fate of a proposed 2,000 seat amphitheater adjacent to Backwater Jack’s is now in the hands of the Osage Beach Board of Aldermen.

The board will consider a request to rezone about 14 acres of land from C-1b (Commercial Lodging) to C-1 (General Commercial) with an E-3 overlay to allow for the amphitheater and accessory uses when it meets in regular session at 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.

It’s been nine months since Arapaho, LLC, filed the rezoning application on Dec. 17, 2019. Arapaho is owned by the Prewitt family, the same family that owns Backwater Jack’s. Because the property does not meet zoning necessary for the project, the Osage Beach Planning and Zoning Commission first heard the case Jan. 14. After a lengthy discussion at that meeting, the P&Z Commission voted to table the issue until its February meeting to gather additional information.

But because traffic flow concerns were raised at the Jan. 14 meeting, applicant Arapaho withdrew its rezoning request so a traffic study could be conducted. Arapaho then reapplied for the rezoning request including findings from a traffic study in May. About the same time, the lake area fell victim to COVID-19 and the next P&Z Commission meeting wasn’t held until June. 

At the June meeting, Arapaho representative Andy Prewitt said to help relieve any noise issues the project would leave at least 185 feet of buffer around the property, install sound buffer barriers and face the facility into the wooded hillside away from existing residential developments. 

City Planner Patterson said the city had officially received a Traffic Impact Assessment and addendum provided by a professional engineering firm dated March 30, 2020. The findings indicated no roadway improvements were necessary. To assist efficient traffic movement, the recommendations to provide traffic control measures at the intersection of Sunset and Bluff drive during events should be implemented.

Jan. 14 hearing and meeting

Among the issues raised at the Jan. 14 meeting during a public hearing and by city staff and commissioners were:

•How sound during performances at the amphitheater might affect nearby residents and property owners. City Planner Cary Patterson said the sound would be monitored according to sound level and land-use guidelines. 

•Commissioner Don Sturn raised concerns about traffic flow. A traffic study was actually conducted and dated Dec. 10, 2019. According to minutes from the Jan. 14 meeting, Sturn said he contacted the engineering firm (LO Environmental, LLC) and learned that the company had never undertaken such a study. He also said the individual who conducted the study was not a certified traffic engineer and was a former employee of the Osage Beach Engineering Department, also questioning the individual’s objectivity.

(Note: According to the study, the amphitheater would not have a negative impact on traffic flow and the surrounding road network. The report said that all roadways within the project’s area of influence have a surplus of capacity and can accommodate anticipated traffic.)

•Commissioner Sturn also raised issue with complaints at Backwater Jack’s that required police presence. 

•Commissioner Kellie Schuman raised issues with potential parking problems with the addition of only 300 parking spaces to accommodate the 2,000-seat amphitheater. City Planner Cary Patterson said to conserve undeveloped land in the area it was his attempt to limit the size of the parking area, noting the existing parking areas at Backwater Jack’s should accommodate the additional vehicles.

•Of the approximate 10 people who spoke during the public hearing, issues were raised about traffic, traffic flow, child safety, noise, damage to the roads, possible depravity of the boaters who use Backwater Jack’s docks, damage to the cove, fire and emergency vehicle access and vendor and employee parking.

And today

After two P&Z meetings in June and the rehearing in July, the issue was passed along to the board of aldermen. It was originally set for consideration by the aldermen in August but was reset until this week so a full board could be available to consider the rezoning request.