MY WORD: Outlet mall would bring problems

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By Jamie Jarboe

The editorial (“Outlet mall plan will test us all,” May 9) in The Sentinel-News (Shelby County’s local paper) about the proposed outlet mall in Simpsonville (The Outlet Shoppes of Louisville) already seems to support this development as “progress” and implores: “We have to avoid the tragedy of lost opportunity.” How is progress and opportunity defined by building this outlet mall?

On May 11, from noon to 12:30 p.m. I counted the number of traffic violations at eastbound exit 28 on I-64. I used very lenient observations and excused many vehicles that technically disobeyed traffic laws, so the numbers could be low. There were: 27 cars/trucks/motorcycles and 2 semis that ran the stop sign; 12 vehicles did not use turn signals when turning onto the ramp to eastbound I-64.

The city of Simpsonville is responsible for enforcing traffic laws at this whole intersection, but its police presence is rarely seen. If the outlet mall is built, the traffic is predicted to increase by approximately a factor of 100. Does this mean there will be 2,700 vehicles running the stop sign, etc?

There were at the most five vehicles backed up at the stop sign during a time period of low traffic. Does this mean that 500 vehicles will be backed up here, putting them onto the interstate? Imagine Christmas time at the outlet mall!

The parking lot will create a large amount of environmental and pollution problems because of the water runoff. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal,about Eran Ben-Joseph’s book Rethinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking,“Parking lots, typically built with impermeable asphalt and concrete curbing, contribute to water pollution and flash flooding by shunting rainwater (and contaminants picked up along the way) into creeks and streams rather than allowing the water to infiltrate the ground to recharge aquifers. An acre of parking lot produces 16 times the amount of runoff as an acre of grass.”

With 60 acres for the proposed outlet mall and most of it paved or covered with buildings (as shown in the map submitted to the Corps of Engineers and appearing to be very similar to the outlet mall in Oklahoma City), a huge amount of runoff would be discharged through storm drains into the Plum Creek Conservation area.

No water retention pond is on the plan, which seems to be a significant omission.

Horizon Group Properties intends to destroy the 6.5-acre lake (created in the 1960s), small wetlands (not on the development land), and ephemeral stream (also not part of the 60 acres). This will include all of the wildlife living in the area (they will essentially be killed) and bulldozing all of the trees. Such a large and old lake supports numerous fish and wildlife.

There does not appear to be any protection or consideration of these animals noted in the application filed with the corps. Is this not cruel treatment and against the law? Why are the animals less important than “progress”?

In 10 years or whenever the mall goes out of business like many do, this lake and wildlife will be gone. There is no provision for restoring the land to its original state when this happens. Is this the legacy that the city of Simpsonville and Shelby County want to provide future generations?

More ominously, outlet malls often metastasize to a more serious cancer after about 10 years. The jobs go away, but the rundown buildings stay. The tax base degrades, and the city deals with the loss of revenues and all of the subsequent ramifications.

This development was mentioned as “the next development in our pipeline” and shown on a map in the 2010 Annual Report of Horizon Group. Visit its Web site at www.horizongroupunder the Investor Relations tab.

Clearly, there has been discussion with some entity in Shelby County for a lot longer than any entity wants to admit. If this is such a good development for this location, why hasn’t it been touted before now?

It appears that secrecy is the ongoing practice for the local governing entities.

There are other locations in Shelby County more suitable than the one chosen at Exit 28. Surely, Horizon Group can find a more suitable site (better traffic management, environmentally less sensitive) where the land is already zoned for further development.

We who live nearby the proposed location are not naïve nor ignorant of the Shelby County Comprehensive Plan, nevertheless we would expect that the governing entities whose mistakes or benign neglect lead to the past bad “progress,” like the truck stop and the buildings near it, would not repeat that action.

This proposed development is on beautiful land and environmentally sensitive – what is wrong with wanting to preserve it? Why should this intersection be the dumping ground for more bad development?

Has the majority owner of the land in question, AKDB LLC, dared to think in a more creative and innovative way than an outlet mall for development? I would like to suggest visiting Pineland
Farms Web site at www.pinelandfarms.orgfor an example of a wonderful way to preserve land and contribute in a meaningful way to Shelby County’s and Kentucky’s equine and agricultural heritage.

Pineland Farms is in New Gloucester, Maine, and I have seen how it contributes to the community and state in many ways including providing good-paying jobs, preservation of the land and environment, promoting education, developing businesses, etc.

In summary, Horizon Group should look at other more appropriate locations for the outlet mall, and the owners of the land in Simpsonville would be wise to look at other venues for developing their land that will contribute long-term to the community.

We all know that after something is built, the developers who promised to be good neighbors leave and usually forget their promises, and the owners of the land get lots of money and don’t care what happens afterward.


Jamie Jarboe lives in Simpsonville.