Simpsonville OKs town center plan

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By Steve Doyle

The City of Simpsonville has a plan for a whole new future.

Its City Commission on Tuesday approved formally the long-range plan for a new town center to be developed along the U.S. 60 corridor.

HNTB, a planning firm from Louisville, has led the city through a planning process that has taken about nine months and produced a document that was approved last month by Triple S Planning & Zoning. The commission’s vote was the final step before the implementation phase.

 “I was really impressed with the company [HNTB] that did the work for us,” Simpsonville Mayor Steve Eden said. “The whole board was impressed. We saw that the board and people really wanted the same thing, and there really was no discussion.”

During this process there were two community-input sessions in which residents helped formed the goals, define the concepts and lay out the details for what they wanted their community to be as it grew in the future.

Citizens had cited “walkability,” “streetscape design,” land use and development and public space and parking as key elements to the plan.

Ideas for the Simpsonville of the future include having a town square, a library, sidewalks and streetlights and firm building standards. Citizens said they didn’t want more metal buildings in the heart of their town.

Eden said he really likes that the plan has a timeline that will help the city conduct its business during the next five to 10 years and keep track on those accomplishments. “It’s one thing to spend a lot of money on a plan,” he said, “but it’s another to have a timeline to keep yourself moving.”

And for a city that has seen its population grow about five-fold in the last three decades, things always seem to be moving quickly.

“I’ve told people when we started those meetings that this was a vision plan for the next 10, 15 to 20 years,” Eden said. “I think everyone understands that.

“The majority of what’s going to happen will come from how development picks back up as we come out of this economy. Some property along U.S. 60 was grandfathered in, and I think the vacant lots are where the first things might happen.”

The city has applied for a sidewalk grant. “If we get that, we’ll probably start there, with something easy,” he said.

In the meantime, there will be a lot of detail work on the city’s ordinances.

“We will now go through all our zone plans to make sure the language in those plans allows us to enforce this new plan,” City Administrator David Eaton said before the meeting.

  Also at the meeting, the commission:

§       Approved the first reading of an ordinance about the city’s Comprehensive Sewer Plan. This ordinance would revise and combine all ordinances passed since 1981, a process that has taken more than a year to complete. The final vote will be June 17.

§       Contributed $100 toward Project Graduation.

§       Recognized Police Chief Scott Chappell, who received a letter or appreciation for his assistance in helping the Taylorsville Police Department recover some stolen property, and Debbie Batliner, who received a similar letter from the Kentucky League of Cities.