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Residents and developers will have to wait until August to see if the Triple S Planning Commission will recommend a zone change that will allow a planned outlet mall on the south side of Interstate 64 in Simpsonville.
More than 100 people showed for the public hearing portion of the planning and zoning meeting, and although a few showed support for the Horizon Group’s planned 50-acre and 363,000 square-foot development, most were there to voice their concerns.
However, after all was said and done, the commission voted to table the request to rezone two parcels totaling nearly 24 acres to Limited Interchange (X-1) from Agricultural and Commercial zoning. It will be on the agenda for the commission’s August 24th meeting. The rest of land in the development plan is zoned Interchange, a no longer used designation that now falls under the X-1 ruling.
The decision came rather quickly from Commissioner Dudley Bottom.
“We’ve been going on this topic for about two-and-a-half hours tonight, and I appreciate all the comments, but I’m going to make a motion that we postpone this decision to August so we can have time to go through the findings of act and the transcript to review and study,” he said.
The motion was seconded by Larry Stewart and unanimously approved. There will be no more public comment at the August meeting.
Tom Rumptz, the senior vice president in charge of the development for Horizon, didn’t view the decision as a setback.
“There was a lot of information presented tonight and a lot of comments, so we respect the commission’s decision to take their time and evaluate it,” he said. “But we’ll continue to move forward with the development process.”
Horizon first announced the plans for the outlet mall, which is south of I-64 on the west side of Buck Creek Road.
Nearly all of those who rose to speak on the record referenced the potential traffic concerns for the area, even with the planned widening for Buck Creek Road.
Senior Transportation Engineer Diane Zimmerman, who consults on such matters for Triple S, stated, however, that the expanded roadway planned by the state would exceed the traffic regulations for the county through 2024. Stating that the levels could be altered by the way the state decides to time the lights, but to reach unacceptable levels, the timing would have to be increased by more than 45 seconds, which would be unlikely.
Zimmerman also noted that any other planned developments for the area, including the outlet mall being planned by Trio Properties for the east side of Buck Creek Road, cannot be included in the current traffic study.
“We cannot include future developments unless there is a development plan filed,” she said. “There has been no plan filed for that mall.”
Instead, the area is used with the baseline growth model for the surrounding area.
If a plan is filed for that development, the traffic study would be reevaluated. She told the commission that the state plans to begin the work by October.
Others questioned the viability of Horizon and the improvements the development will add to the surrounding area, outside of the tax dollars.
“This development will be absolutely devastating for those living south of I-64,” said Michael Riggs, the county magistrate for District 2, which encompasses the area. “Keep in mind its fifty acres of asphalt and three hundred and sixty-three-thousand square feet of shopping center.”
Stephen Campbell, who lives in the area, questioned the value added.
“There are a lot of questions about the traffic and the environmental impact, and rightfully so, but the real question is simple,” he said. “Is there truly a positive net benefit to the community? I don’t know all the positive and negatives surrounding the development, but you need to. If there’s a positive there, I’ll be behind you. But please weigh all these factors.”