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EARLIER: Triple S Planning Commission: Horizon’s plan begins approval process

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Tuesday’s zoning hearing is is first of several months of steps

By Todd Martin

The Triple S Planning Commission will hear its first arguments and possibly make a recommendation Tuesday on a plan to build an outlet mall in Simpsonville.

The request for the 50-acre parcel comes from Horizon Group Properties, which first announced plans for The Outlet Shoppes of Louisville to be built just south of Interstate 64 at the intersection of Buck Creek and Veechdale roads last year, and it will be heard at the commission’s regular monthly meeting at Stratton Center in Shelbyville.

The property is largely zoned Interstate Commercial (IC), a zoning district that no longer exists but has been replaced by and governed under Limited Interchange (X-1), but 4.42-acres of property is zoned Commercial, where a shopping center would be allowable, and another 19.34-acres is zoned Agricultural. However, Horizon has expressed interest in keeping the property under one zoning classification.

Horizon’s request is to change the Commercial and Agricultural acreage to X-1 already has been signed by the state’s transportation cabinet and those property owners whose land would be affected by moving to Veechdale Road.

Horizon’s plan calls for Veechdale Road, which intersects with Buck Creek Road very close to the eastbound exit ramp from I-64, to be relocated just south of the new development.

Following Executive Director Ryan Libke’s explanation of the application to the commission and the public, Horizon officials will be given a chance to explain why they are requesting the zone change, how the area will benefit from the change, and, if it’s a deviation from the future planned use for the area, why it should be changed.

Those officials also will present a preliminary planned unit development plan, showing how the land would be used if the zoning change request is permitted. The development plan lists 363,704 total square feet of buildings to be placed over the five lots on the 50.7-acre parcel. It also includes three out-lots totaling 2.22 acres.

Before building, the company would have to present and have approved a more detailed development plan.

 

The process

After the commission hears Horizon’s request, the members of the public then will be given a chance to comment on the plan and ask questions. At the end, the company will be given a chance to reply.

A court reporter will be present to record all comments made at the meeting.

After hearing comments from both the company and the public, commissioners could vote on its recommendation following the comments and any more discussion they require, or the vote could be tabled to the next meeting if the commissioners feel they need more time.

Once the commission makes a recommendation, it then will need to review the transcript and findings of fact at its meeting in August before formally making a recommendation to the Simpsonville City Commission, which has the final say on the zone change request.

The city commission could take up to 90 days to vote on the plan or make no decision – unless requested to do so by the public – and no decision would make final the recommendation from Triple S.

 

Resident complaints

Horizon’s concept has come under fire recently by residents living around the planned development. The residents have expressed concern about the amount of traffic the outlet mall will bring to an already congested area. On the north side of I-64 is a Pilot Truck Stop and the Shelby County Flea Market, which residents claim have already made the intersection dangerous.

Several residents have wondered if the traffic study completed by the company is valid and extensive enough.

Deborah Bilitski, an attorney with Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs who specializes in zoning law, said Horizon submitted its traffic study to Triple S for review and noted that it met the state requirements. Horizon also has been working with the state highway department on plans for widening Buck Creek Road, which has been on the state’s agenda for several years.

Andrea Clifford, the public information officer for the Department of Highways' District 5, which covers Shelby County, said that because of the potential of developments, the state has asked its consultants to redo the traffic study.

“Because we didn’t have that information when we did our original designs, we don’t know how those potential developments will impact the traffic patterns we’ve been using,” she said.

Clifford said the cabinet’s team has been in contact with the developers to get the size and information about the developments.

While awaiting those traffic studies, the state hasn’t committed to any changes. However, Tom Rumptz, Horizon senior vice president in charge of construction, said the company has been working with the state on plans to widen the road and keeping the flow of traffic under control.

Horizon submitted a traffic study with its plan to Triple S, and Rumptz said one of the company’s goals for this public hearing is to try to explain those plans for the road and better controlling the traffic.

Another concern of the residents – and one that Triple S has no say in – is the environmental implications of filling in a 6.5-acre pond on the property.

Horizon has requested a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill the pond, which was formed in the early 1960s, when the state needed fill dirt while building I-64. Officials with Horizon said they hope to hear from the Corps of Engineers by the end of the month, but there is no deadline for the decision.

The permit is not needed for Horizon to request the zone change for the property.