Neighbors oppose Simon Property Group’s request for CUP amendment to allow outdoor events at malls

WICHITA – Simon Property Group has applied for an amendment to the community unit plans for Towne East Square and Towne West Square so it can hold outdoor events at both malls, but neighbors near Towne East are fighting it.

“They want to do a bunch of things in an outdoor forum, which we think means more traffic and more trash and more noise,” says Larry Duntz, president of the Rockwood Homes Association.

“We already have a significant problem with trash … blowing over on our property that they’ve been unwilling to do anything about.”

Area mall manager Michael Payton says what’s blowing is the issue blowing out of proportion.

“This isn’t really a big deal, really,” he says. “We’re going to have a meeting with them to address this.”

Payton won’t address what events the malls would have.

“We’re not necessarily filling in the blanks on that right now,” he says.

“They’re not being very forthright with telling us what exactly they want to do,” Duntz says. “Our entire board has agreed that what they’re talking about is not a good thing.”

Vice Mayor Pete Meitzner says most other retail developments already have approval for holding outdoor events, so he thinks it makes sense for Simon, too.

“They do a lot of good things … for the community,” he says. “It would level the field, so to speak.”

He says when Simon wants to hold events such as the Race for the Cure, “We jump through hoops just for them to get a temporary stage.”

The amendment would allow for events that last up to 60 days.

Duntz says if there was a way to alleviate some of the existing problems and potential issues, such as with a fence, he and others would be more open to the amendment.

“If they’d do something like that, I’d be a lot less opposed.”

For now, though, he says, “There’s no indications from them that they’re going to do anything different to try to keep it clean.”

Payton says there are some items that Simon needs to address with surrounding neighborhoods, but he won’t say what.

“I’m not going to get into that. I apologize.”

Payton says he’s willing to work with residents of Rockwood and Eastborough.

“Oh, absolutely,” he says. “We do not want to adversely impact the neighborhoods.”