Developers and a representative of at least some residents say they are satisfied with what was an otherwise anticlimactic conclusion Tuesday night when the Triple S Planning Commission considered a zone change request for a second outlet mall in Simpsonville.
For two hours Trio Property Development and its partner, Paragon Outlet Development presented plans for an outlet mall and requested a zone change for its 64-acre property east of Buck Creek Road and south of Interstate 64.
Residents who live in the vicinity of the property expressed their concerns and asked questions, some of them quite passionately.
Finally commissioner Scott Merchant made the motion to table the matter until Triple S’s next meeting, which is Nov. 20, and Dudley Bottom seconded that motion. This is the same process that Triple S employed in July when considering a zone change request from Horizon Group Properties to build its mall on the west side of Buck Creek Road.
Trio Properties asked 47 acres be rezoned to limited interchange (X-1), leaving 17 acres to remain zoned agricultural.
As was the case with Horizon’s request, most of the eight residents of the area who spoke had strong objections to the development locating in Simpsonville, right across the street from the location approved by the Simpsonville City Commission on Sept. 19 for Horizon.
“Most of their objections were just about this two-mall thing; nobody hit us with something that was a core issue,” said Bill Bardenwerper, a development attorney with Bardenwerper Talbott & Roberts, the firm that coordinates the project for Trio.
Bardenwerper was referring to the fact that most of the objections were that people did not want two outlet malls to locate so close to one another.
One resident, Barb Chadley of Buck Creek Road, angrily admonished the commission: “We don’t want to see Simpsonville become another Louisville. All of this economic development will ruin Simpsonville.”
Bardenwerper told the commission that even though he understood the reluctance people everywhere feel about development in their neighborhood, they should keep in mind its economic importance to the community.
“My view is that in these times, we have to take advantage of every economic opportunity that we can, because there are just not that many opportunities out there, especially like this one,” he said.
Steve Porter, a Louisville attorney who represented the Hunter’s Pointe Homeowners Association, said the reaction of the residents who showed up to voice their comments did not surprise him.
“Even though we [Hunters Pointe residents] reached an agreement with the developers, their [residents] preference would be for it all to go away,” he said. “But we were able to work out the best deal possible. If it’s going to pass, we got the most protection we could get.”
That deal involved cutting down the number of modifications the developers wanted to make to the property, such as erecting a 10-foot l fence around the development and reducing the original three stream crossings to just one, in order to the preserve more trees and natural wildlife habitats, Porter said.
“Nobody can say that everybody in Hunter’s Pointe will be one-hundred percent satisfied to see the property go in; most would love to see it all be soybeans and corn,” he said. “But they have worked with us, and the problems we said before that we had with this development don’t exist anymore.”
To prove that point when addressing Triple S, Porter held up a letter from homeowners stating their previous objections to the outlet mall, ripped it in two, and threw it up in the air, a move that delighted Bardenwerper.
“We managed to work things out with the principal neighborhood group,” he told a reporter afterwards. “They made a very strong and dramatic endorsement by ripping up their letter of opposition. We were negotiating up until the last moment, and they got everything they wanted. And there weren’t any serious objections by the commission, so we are very pleased.”
Triple S will review the transcript of the public hearing on Nov. 20, and, if it continues to mirror its course from the summer, would then vote on the matter. The commission’s position will be passed to the Simpsonville City Commission, which has the ultimate approval on the request.
On Horizon’s request, Triple S voted to approve the zone change and plans, and Simpsonville conducted a public hearing on the first reading of an ordinance to authorize those, too. After two readings, the changes were approved unanimously.