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EARLIER: Simpsonville Outlet Mall: Horizon still awaits permit

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Army Corps of Engineers says construction could begin but not around pond area

By Todd Martin

As one outlet mall plan for Simpsonville still awaits approval from the Triple S Planning Commission, another seems to be on the cusp of clearing its last hurdle.

The Horizon Group Properties site, which sits on the west side of Buck Creek Road and south of the current location of Veechdale Road and the Interstate 64, is getting closer and closer to obtaining a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill a 6.5-acre pond, which sits partially on the 50-acre building site for the proposed 355,000-square-foot mall.

The Paragon Outlet Partners/Trio Property Management site, a planed 400,000-square-foot outlet mall development that sits directly east, across Buck Creek Road from the Horizon site, will learn its fate from Triple S on Tuesday.

Layna Thrush, the project managerwithin the Regulatory Department for the Army Corps, said the permit has not been authorized, but she said the Corps “should be able to complete the processing of their [Horizon’s] application within the next month or so.”

And while construction cannot yet interfere with the pond, the surrounding wetlands or the ephemeral waterways, she said Horizon could begin construction on the property, “as long as they don’t impact any waters of the U.S.”

Tom Rumptz, Horizon’s senior vice president in charge of the development, did not return messages left by The Sentinel-News seeking comment on the company’s plans to begin construction.

When Horizon’s plan was approved for recommendation in August, Rumptz restated the company’s plans to begin construction in the spring of 2013 with completion scheduled for 2014.

That would coincide with the state’s plans to begin construction the widening of the south side of Buck Creek Road.

Andrea Clifford, the public information officer with the Department of Highway’s District 5 office, said the state plans to begin advertising the job in mid-January and opening bids in mid-February.

“That would allow us to begin construction early next year,” she said.

Horizon, city officials and the property owners – AKDB, LLC, headed up by Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter – have been working on this proposal for more than a year, and it became public one year ago. Since then residents in the area, nearly all living outside of Simpsonville’s city limits, have tried to fight the development for reasons including traffic, safety and noise issues along with declining their property value.

The Simpsonville City Commission approved Horizon’s plan in October, and if Triple S approves Paragon’s plans next week, the commission could consider that plan before the end of the year.