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Lighting changes OKd for Simpsonville outlet mall

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Site will be able to have taller but fewer poles

By Todd Martin

The Triple S Planning Commission approved two changes for the site of the Outlet Shoppes of Louisville, much to the dismay of a few area residents in the attendance.

Representatives for Horizon Group Properties and CBL – the developers of the 374,000-square-foot outlet mall just south of Interstate 64 in Simpsonville, at the intersection of Buck Creek and Veechdale Roads – had returned with more information to make a second request for the light poles on the site to be 33 feet tall instead of the maximum 25 feet county code allows.

The group had made the request with the original development plan in March but could not answer some questions about the lighting and decided to remove that request. There was also a request Tuesday to amend the tracts on the 50-acre parcel, making changes to three interior tracts and creating a new out lot tract 11 on the north side of the property, facing I-64.

“Since there were originally three out lots planned and approved for the site, we’re simply asking that this lot be added,” said Deborah Bilitski, an attorney with Wyatt Tarrant & Combs of Louisville. “With the lights, we were not prepared to answer some of your questions last time, so we’ve come back with more information.

“Our request is that the poles are thirty-three feet, eight feet higher than currently allowed. By doing that we’ll be able to reduce the number of poles from eighty-six to fifty-nine, and our photometrics [lighting] study shows that there will be no off-site lighting issues. With the thirty-three-foot poles and the twenty-five foot poles, there is zero foot-candles of light trespass.”

Foot-candle is a standard measurement of light intensity.

Kevin Young, the principal at Land Design and Development, which designed the property, also noted that the site sits about 15 feet below the elevation of Buck Creek Road.

Several residents questioned how the increased height would not provide more light pollution, and Jamie Jarboe asked what advantage the company gained by using the higher lights.

“The industry standard is between thirty-three and forty feet,” Bilitski said. “By using those lights, we’re able to use fewer lights and more energy-efficient fixtures. They are still dark-sky compliant, and we’re already voluntarily meeting the new lighting standards that you’ll be passing very soon, including the fifty-percent cutoff after closing.”

For comparison, commission chair George Best asked how tall the poles are at the company’s new facility in Woodstock, Ga., just outside Atlanta, but neither Bilitski nor Young were involved in that plan and could not answer.

Horizon Executive Vice President Tom Rumptz, who has attended several meetings with the commission, could not attend this meeting because he was moving his daughter in at college.

“He said he’d be happy to meet with you at another time and answer any questions you might have,” Bilitski said.

The vote to allow the variations nearly was stopped when commissioner John Wills made a motion to table the request until September, when a lighting expert could be brought in, but Wills’ motion died for a lack of a second.

Commissioner Dudley Bottom noted that the information about the elevation of the property in comparison to the surrounding property and the number of light poles required answered his questions from before, and he said he was impressed with the group’s commitment to the lighting restrictions.

“I commend you on meeting dark-sky regulations and on our new regulations, we appreciate that,” he said. “I feel like from a distance, there will be nothing to worry about with this plan.”

Commissioner Quintin Biagi made the motion to approve the request; including increasing the light poles from 25 feet to 33 feet and changing the tracts, and Scott Merchant seconded it.

The motion was approved, 5-1, with Wills voting against.

Bilitski and Young also included an update on the project with the presentation.

“The utilities are being installed, and the realignment of Kentucky 1399 [Veechdale Road] should be complete by the middle of September,” Young said. “And we’re still able to maintain July 30 as our targeted opening date.”