LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- At the very least, an attorney for six people who filed lawsuits to stop Topgolf from building at Oxmoor Center told a judge Thursday the city needs to take a mulligan and start the entire approval process over.
Attorney Steve Porter, who represents six people who live in Hurstbourne next to the mall, told Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Ann Bailey Smith that Topgolf did not properly file applications with the planning commission, using a different company name, and the approval process needs a re-do.
“They used fraudulent names of entities that do not exist,” Porter said, arguing the approval of Topgolf by the Metro Planning Commission and Metro Council should be “reversed.”
“Nobody knew who the actual applicants were,” he said.
This issue has already been heatedly debated for nearly a year with multiple public hearings and hours of comments, both for and against the project.
While Smith did not rule Thursday, she did pose questions to attorneys for the city and Topgolf that touched on the issues Porter said was problematic, including the flawed application and a traffic study that only focused on daytime hours.
Smith seized on Porter’s argument that the complex would be open until midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends. The judge noted that the prior tenant, Sears, closed at 9 p.m., and a traffic study that focused on daytime hours would not address concerns of the plaintiffs.
Porter argued that if Topgolf is allowed in Louisville, it should at least have to close by 11 p.m.
Topgolf attorney Cliff Ashburner argued that the study showed only 3 percent of people going to the complex would drive through that neighborhood. And he called the “fraud” allegation “offensive,” arguing it was a “simple zoning application,” and everyone knew what was being proposed and had ample time to comment on it.
And both Ashburner and Smith asked what exactly Porter would have done differently if the application had been filled out with the company name “Top Golf USA Louisville LLC.”
“This is sound and fury representing nothing,” said attorney Paul Whitty, who represented the city. The name of the entity on the application has nothing to do with the arguments about the issues, he told the judge.
Porter said citizens need to know exactly what company is filing applications to develop land in the city, and the judge would be setting a bad precedent for future development.
Louisville Metro Planning Commission unanimously voted last October to recommend that the Metro Council allow land at Oxmoor to be rezoned and sign off on other permits and exemptions for the project. Then, last November, the council voted 20-3 to grant those approvals.
The 62,103-square-foot building would have more than 100 climate-controlled hitting bays and a net-enclosed driving range with 175 foot-tall poles.
The six residents who have filed suit — Peggy L. and Bryan C. Barber; Gerald J. and Helen M. Nicolas; and Sheila M. and David J. McLaughlin — are among the closest Hurstbourne residents to Oxmoor.
The plaintiffs and several citizens filled the courtroom Thursday.
Porter also argued that the proposed light system doesn’t follow city guidelines that require developers to mitigate “adverse impacts” from lights on the night sky and require buffers between residential areas.
He said in his visits to other Topgolfs around the nation, lights were posted on poles 175 feet high and visible from the interstate at least 2 miles away from the complex.
Both sides accused the other of manipulating photos of how bright the lights are at other Topgolf locations during the hearing.
“It’s a serious allegation that an attorney would manipulate evidence,” Smith said, eventually having to stop both sides from bickering with each other.
In addition, Porter also claimed that during the public hearings, the planning commission allowed those who were in favor of Topgolf to make the same comments repeatedly, while cutting off those who tried to repeat complaints.
Ashburner noted that there were multiple hearings that lasted several hours, and everyone had an opportunity to speak on the issue.
Porter maintained his clients are not against development or even Topgolf itself, just the placing of it near their homes.
If approved, it’s expected to take Topgolf 18 months to secure all the permits and build the Oxmoor project.
Smith did not indicate when she would finish her opinion.
- Lawsuit: Metro Council approved Topgolf using ‘inaccurate evidence’
- Oxmoor neighbors: Judge should void Topgolf approvals due to flawed applications
- Topgolf plans first Kentucky driving range at Oxmoor
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