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EARLIER: Horizon gets unanimous OK for zone change for outlet mall in Simpsonville

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Development plans can proceed for parcel near I-64

By Steve Doyle

SIMPSONVILLE – Horizon Properties Group has the full go-ahead to use 50 acres of land in Simpsonville as the site for an outlet mall.

The Simpsonville City Commission unanimously approved on Wednesday morning the second reading of an ordinance that allows zone changes for approximately 24 acres from Agriculture and Commercial to Limited Interchange on a parcel that is located south of Interstate 64 and on the west side of Buck Creek and Veechdale roads.

Tom Rumptz, senior vice president and project coordinator for Horizon, sat on the front row with his attorney, Deborah Bilitski of Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs in Louisville, as the matter was considered. There were numerous observers, such as Ryan Libke, executive director of the Triple S Planning Commission, Marshall Long, vice president of the Shelby County Industrial & Development Foundation, and former city commissioner and county magistrate Hobie Henninger, but the process was mere formality.

The commission had approved the first reading of the ordinance on Sept. 4, when it allowed residents to comment and ask questions about the zone changes that had been approved in August by Triple S, but in this meeting only discussion among the commissioners was an option.

Commissioner Sharon Cummins asked whether there had been progress in discussing the needs of the owner of the BP store that is on the corner of Buck Creek and Veechdale and whose position would be altered by Horizon’s plan to reroute a portion of Veechdale Road.

Rumptz said that the discussions continued but that the owner of Jay’s BP, Joe Weaver, had been on a trip to Europe and was unavailable.

“We met with him, and then he went to Europe, and we were scheduled to meet today,” Rumptz said in response to Cummins’ question. “But apparently he has not returned yet. We are trying to communicate with him.”

Cummins then made a motion to accept the zone change, which was seconded by Vicky Wise, who was attending her first commission meeting in several months following treatment for cancer. The vote was unanimous, although Commissioner Scott McDowell was absent.

Mayor Steve Eden said McDowell was in Florida attending to an emergency situation at the office there of his employer, Penrod Lumber, but that he had sent a letter to the commission.

“He wanted everyone to know that he had read the findings of fact [from Triple S]  and kept up to speed on the situation,” Eden said.

Horizon’s plan is to build a 355,000-square-foot facility, to be called the Outlet Shoppes of Louisville. Rumptz has projected an employment base of about 1,200 jobs, with that number to more than double seasonally, and annual sales of about $100 million.

Horizon is awaiting final approval from the Army Corps of Engineers on its plan to drain and fill a portion of a 6.5-acre lake and some adjacent wetlands.

Rumptz has said that if all approvals are in place that construction could begin in the spring with a target of opening the mall around the time school resumes in 2014.

A competing or coexisting plan involving Paragon/Trio Properties, for a 400,000-square-foot outlet mall to be built on the east side of Buck Creek Mall, continues to progress and is expected to be on the agenda for the meeting of Triple S on Oct. 16 to seek a zone change from Agriculture to Limited Interchange on about 56 of the 81 acres on the site.

The two projects also include development of more than a dozen out-lots for possible restaurants, hotels and other peripheral businesses. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is widening Buck Creek Road to four lanes from the area in front of the proposed malls and north to U.S. 60.