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EARLIER: Zoning commission OKs zone change, plan for Simpsonville outlet mall

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Simpsonville City Commission has final say on Horizon Group Properties' plan

By Todd Martin

A proposed outlet mall for Simpsonville moved significantly closer to reality Tuesday when the Triple S Planning Commission recommended a zoning change request and the preliminary plan presented by Horizon Group Properties.

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A small crowd of perhaps 15 watched as the commissioners voted, 5-1, to accept both motions, with commissioner Larry Stewart voting against each of them.

Horizon made the request to have 24 acres along Buck Creek and Veechdale Roads, just south of Interstate 64, rezoned from Agricultural to Interstate Commercial (X-1), which would match the restrictions on the rest of the 26-acre parcel, where the company plans to build the 364,000-square-foot Outlet Shoppes of Louisville.

Last month, after hearing the plan and comments – mostly in opposition to the site – from a crowd of more than 100, the commission decided to table the decision to have time to study the transcript with the comments from the meeting.

Scott Merchant made recommendation to approve the request for the zoning changes because, he said, “It complies with land use and elements of our comprehensive plan, which encourages development at that intersection.”

Dudley Bottom followed with the motion to accept the preliminary plan because he said the plan “complies with our regulations – and with the zone change application approved by Simpsonville and the permitting approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state road improvements” it should be approved.

The Simpsonville City Commission now has the final decision on the zoning change and project plan. The city can approve or reject the recommendation by Triple S, or if it takes no action, after 90 days the recommendation would become final.

“We’re pleased with the favorable response, and we believe that’s a reflection on our plans’ meeting the criteria and zoning regulations,” said Horizon executive Tom Rumptz, who attended the meeting.

The company is waiting to see if the Corps of Engineers will issue a permit allowing a 6.5-acre pond to be drained and partially filled, along with several small areas of wetlands and ephemeral streams.

Rumptz said Tuesday that Horizon had not received its permit from the Army Corps and that he hopes the project could be on the agenda for the next meeting of the Simpsonville City Commission, which is Sept. 4.

The company’s timetable remains to begin construction in the spring with completion in 2014.

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 last November. 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.