Backwater Jack's amphitheatre proposal moves forward to aldermen meeting in August

DAN FIELD
Backwater Jacks in Osage Beach.

The prospects of a 2,000-seat amphitheater adjacent to Backwater Jack’s in Osage Beach inched forward Tuesday night.

The OB Planning & Zoning Commission voted 5-2 in regular session July 14 to recommend to the board of aldermen that a 14-acre parcel of land up the hill from the popular restaurant and entertainment venue be rezoned to allow for the amphitheater. Applicant Arapaho, LLC’s, request is to rezone the land from C-1/C1b (Commercial Lodging) to C1 (General Commercial) with an E-3 overlay. Arapaho, LLC, is owned by the Gary Prewitt family, which also owns Backwater Jack’s.

The aldermen are expected to consider the recommendation and the zoning change at a regular board meeting in August.

Voting in favor of the recommendation were Commissioners Kellie Schuman, Nancy Viselli, Susan Ebling, Richard Ross (alderman) and John Olivarri (mayor). Voting against a recommendation were Michelle Myler and Tony Kirn. That’s the same vote when the P&Z Commissioners voted in special session to re-start the public hearing process.

There was a mix of individuals in favor of the rezoning and opposed to the rezoning at the July 14 P&Z meeting that last about 45 minutes.

The issue was sent back for re-hearing after city officials received letters from Arapaho, LLC, and Tom Hand, a local citizen and owner of TNT Solutions, LLC, asking the P&Z Commission to reconsider and rescind its original vote to deny based on two points:

•Poor acoustics and sound system in the Board Chambers that possibly prevented commissioners and others in attendance from hearing all of the dialogue.

•Possible conflict of interest by two of the P&Z Commissioners. One of the commissioners cited for possible conflict of interest has since resigned.

The amphitheater could bring additional revenue to Osage Beach which has seen sales tax revenues decline because of COVID-19 shutdowns and a general decline in business within the city.

The opposition generally has come from residents who were fearful of additional noise in the area and potential traffic concerns. A traffic study conducted after a delayed public hearing several months ago determined there would not be any significant impact from additional traffic. Entrance to the amphitheater would be the same as for Backwater Jacks with the addition of a 300-space parking area.

To help remediate any noise or inconvenience from the development, Andrew Prewitt of Prewitt Enterprises said they proposed to leave at least a 185-foot buffer around the property, install sound barriers and face the stage in a southeasterly direction away from any existing residential developments.

It is also worth noting that Planning and Zoning Director Cary Patterson said in his initial review that the amphitheater would not increase the number of docking facilities or boat slips allowed for the property.