Township issue

Berkshire voters allow rezoning for outlet mall

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

With the blessing of Berkshire Township voters, Simon Property Group and Tanger Outlets will move forward in building a 400,000-square-foot outlet mall on 208 acres just off the U.S. Route 36-state Route 37 interchange with Interstate 71.

Berkshire Township voters Tuesday, Nov. 5, were asked to cast their ballots on a referendum that, if upheld, would have overturned the zoning that was approved by the township zoning commission in May.

Township trustees in June voted 1-1 on the application, upholding the commission’s decision.

Unofficial final results show the referendum was narrowly defeated, with 576 “yes” votes (51 percent). The referendum received 551 “no” votes (49 percent).

Those who promoted the successful “yes” vote did so under the belief that Simon-Tanger could have the land annexed into Columbus or Sunbury if the referendum were upheld. That would have meant the mall could be built on the same land, but any taxes and zoning associated with the mall would be in the hands of the annexing municipality.

Many who backed the opposing side rebuked claims annexation was imminent.

The defeated effort was funded by Horizon Group Properties, which in February received rezoning approval for 108 acres off Smith’s Mill and Beech roads in New Albany to build the Outlet Shoppes at Columbus.

A press release issued by Simon-Tanger following the announcement of the election results said the property will be developed with residents in mind and the opinions of the members of the Berkshire Township Citizens Advisory Group will be considered.

“We are pleased with the referendum vote and will continue to work hard to provide a shopping experience that will make the community proud,” the press release said.

“We will continue to be an active part of the community as we share the common goal to support and improve the quality of life for which Berkshire Township is known.

“We have appreciated the input received from community members to date, and we will continue to solicit feedback and input through ongoing advisory board meetings. As always, we will keep the results of those meetings posted along with periodic progress updates on this public website: tangeroutlet.com/berkshire.

Simon-Tanger has said construction on the mall will start in the spring with a projected opening in summer 2015. It has estimated the outlet mall would employ about 800 workers and bring in close to $2 million in annual property taxes.

No announcement has been made as to what stores will be featured at the mall.

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