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Simpsonville seeks to annex interchange

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By Walt Reichert

The Simpsonville City Commission Tuesday took first reading on an ordinance that would annex into the city 42 acres at the interchange with I-64 and Buckcreek Road.

Nearly all of the land is owned by the state and includes the interstate itself, its median and the land within the cloverleafs. But just under 7 acres is owned by Redline Properties, which will seek to re-zone the land to allow for commercial development, according to the company's general manager, Mike Ford.

Ford sent a letter to the commission in late July asking for the city to annex the property. In the letter, he indicated Redline will ask Triple S Planning and Zoning to allow a zone change from agriculture to X-1. The change would allow for development of restaurants, hotels or coffee shops. The city also has a letter from Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert saying the state would not object to the annexation.

The interlocal agreement the city of Simpsonville has with the county allows for the city to annex the property without asking for permission from fiscal court.

Simpsonville City Administrator David Eaton said the annexation would allow the city to benefit from any commercial development on the property.

"They may build a hotel there and that would be very beneficial to the city," Eaton said.

Ford said it is too early to say what the company may build on the site. He did say the company would have to pay to bring any sewer lines to the site. The sewers would have to come under the interstate from the area of the Pilot truck stop or from the state's rest stop, which is about .8 mile east of the property.

Redline Properties is a subsidiary of Interstate Equipment Sales and Rental, a Richmond, Kentucky company that sought to rezone the 7 acres from agriculture to X-2 earlier this year in order to put equipment and fuel storage tanks on the property. Local residents banned together and fought the zone change request, saying the plan would increase the potential for pollution and traffic in the area and would be an eyesore. Triple S turned down the zone change request.

Magistrate Michael Riggs, who represents the area on fiscal court fears that the annexation request from Ford may be a back-handed way for the company to build whatever it wants on the site. He said Redline's request to be annexed to the city may be its way of bypassing Triple S and getting the Simpsonville City Commission to approve whatever business the company puts on the land.

"You can look on the other side of the interstate {at the truck stop and flea market} and see they are not very good planners," Riggs said. "I don't think they've ever met a business they don't like."

The commission has the power to accept or reject any recommendation from Triple S on zone change requests.

But Ford said the company has no plans to put any heavy equipment company on the site.

"We fought that battle and we lost and now we're moving on," Ford said.

Riggs said he also believes the annexation attempt by the city of Simpsonville is an effort to "reach their tentacles out here."

"Certainly the residents who live south of the interstate don't have anything to gain by the city coming over here," Riggs said. "Apparently the commission thinks the city government does."

The commission is scheduled to take a second reading on the ordinance at its next regular meeting, Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 8:30 a.m.