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There will be different players, but likely the same script will be followed by the Simpsonville City Commission on Tuesday night, when plans for a second outlet mall in the city gets first review for final approval.
That’s when commissioners could consider the first reading of an ordinance to grant zone changes and approve plans from Trio Property and Paragon Outlet to build a mall on the southeast corner of Interstate 64 and Buck Creek Road.
Trio/Paragon earlier this month received from the Triple S Planning Commission a recommendation for acceptance of the zone changes required to build its 400,000-square-foot outlet center.
This is the same pattern as the one followed by Horizon Group Properties on a zone change and preliminary plan for a 364,000-square-foot outlet mall on the west side of Buck Creek Road at the intersection with Veechdale Road, directly across the Trio/Paragon site.
Horizon continues to await approval from the Army Corps of Engineers to drain a 6.5-acre lake on its property. All of its other legal approvals have been met.
The Simpsonville City Commission can approve or reject the recommendation by Triple S on Trio/Paragon’s zone changes and plans, call a public hearing or, if the commission were to take no action, after 90 days the recommendation would become final.
“The commission likely will do like before, and the public will be allowed to comment,” Simpsonville City Administrator David Eaton said of Tuesday’s meeting, which will be at 7 p.m. in city hall. “But that will be only that night. It would be just like they did for Horizon’s request.”
The request by Trio/Paragon was to rezone 47 acres south of I-64 and east of Buck Creek Road zoned Agricultural to Limited Interchange (X-1) and to allow the retail center. The other 17 acres included the development, which also feature nine out-lots around the retail center, already are zoned X-1 and appropriate for an outlet mall.
The preliminary PUD was approved by Triple S for a positive recommendation to the Simpsonville City Commission, but that OK was based on a list of proposed conditions, as well. Those conditions had been negotiated with a lawyer hired by the Hunters Pointe Homeowners Association and include:
§ Protecting the wooded area along the stream, aside from one crossing area.
§ A 10-foot shadowbox fence built around the perimeter of the ring road on the south side of the property facing the subdivision, and plantings in the area will be enhanced.
§ More stringent lighting requirements, including no light bleed onto residential properties and a minimum of 50 percent dimming of the lighting after closing hours.
§ Pylon signage only on the north side of the property facing I-64.
§ Maximum building heights of 40 feet.
§ Limiting noise-emitting machinery and Dumpsters facing the subdivision.
Should the city commission consider and pass that first reading on Tuesday, the ordinance most likely would be considered for second – and final – reading at the commission’s scheduled meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 19.
Although the approval of the zone change and plan by Simpsonville would appear to be de facto, residents south of the city, along Buck Creek and Veechdale roads, who have appeared in numerous public forums to speak against the plans and argue that they violate the county’s comprehensive plan, are continuing to pursue their cause.
Their most vocal concerns have addressed the state’s road plan for widening Buck Creek and adding exit lanes from I-64, its traffic studies and the potential for overcrowded highways and higher crime and how all of that will affect the quality of their lives and the value of their homes.
One of those residents, Jamie Jarboe, who owns a home on Buck Creek Road, has been pursuing through public records requests information about the state’s involvement in the plans for these malls.
“There’s really not much we can do about this,” she said. “I wanted to see how far back this goes.”
E-mail correspondence from the office of Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson that was released to Jarboe shows that Abramson and his staff and other cabinet officials have been involved with this project since early in the year.
Abramson in fact met with Simpsonville Mayor Steve Eden, and copies of the partially redacted documents – which Jarboe shared with The Sentinel-News – shows that Gov. Steve Beshear and Abramson apparently met with representatives of both the Horizon and Trio/Paragon groups.
The correspondence suggests that Abramson’s also office may have been contacted in an effort to move along state agencies whose work has been part of the planning process.
“I just find it all very interesting,” Jarboe said.
Block grant plans
Because these are retail developments and not industrial, these malls are not eligible for state tax breaks or other incentive packages, although the city of Simpsonville will pursue a federal block grant to help expand the sewer line beneath I-64 to connect to the parcel being developed by Horizon.
Eaton said Thursday that the block grant – a strategy the city employed when building in partnership with West Shelby Water a water tower behind the Shelby County Flea Market – would not be pursued until developers were ready to start construction.
Commissioners had authorized pursuit of a block grant at their meeting on Nov. 21. At that same meeting, they completed the annexation process for a small parcel where J’s Gas & Food Mart – the BP station – is located. It was the only piece of property directly involved in these mall plans that wasn’t in the city limits.