LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Neighbors have filed a second lawsuit over a proposed Topgolf at Oxmoor Center, claiming the Louisville Metro Council violated the city’s land-use rules when it agreed to a zoning change and other approvals for the project.
Six residents of the suburban city of Hurstbourne say the council’s decision -- the final action needed for the driving range at Oxmoor to move forward -- was made with “insufficient and inaccurate evidence” and based on faulty analysis.
They are asking a judge to toss out the council’s November vote and force Metro government, Topgolf and other defendants to pay legal fees and court costs.
"My clients, these six people and the others who are supporting them, are not opposed to Topgolf in Louisville, just opposed to it being near people's houses," the residents' attorney Steve Porter said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. "I've been to eight Topgolfs. It's a fun entertainment bar, nightclub, bar, facility, whatever you want to call it. It's a fun place, and it should be in Louisville."
Among other allegations, the lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court on Wednesday alleges that the council disregarded Louisville’s land development code and comprehensive plan.
Topgolf will change the character of the area, Porter told reporters.
"The development proposal is not to human scale, which the comprehensive plan requires," he said. "The noise, traffic and lighting will not be mitigated to the point where they will not bother neighbors."
Topgolf officials have disputed those claims.
Porter said “many, many citizens in Jefferson County” are funding the lawsuits, contributing amounts between $20 and $300. He estimated that as many as 150 people have donated money.
He declined to identify those who are financially backing the legal efforts because those donors haven’t given him permission to disclose their names.
But Porter said almost all of the funds have come from Hurstbourne residents.
“There are no big corporate contributors or competitors, either shopping center competitors or developer competitors or anybody else like that who is involved in making those contributions,” he said.
Council members voted 20-3 on November 29 to rezone 22 acres at Oxmoor, allow a permit for a driving range and give other exemptions, such as 175-foot-tall poles to anchor nets. It capped months of debate over the golf-and-entertainment complex planned for the shuttered Sears at the eastern Jefferson County shopping center.
But the suit claims that process was flawed. For example, it accuses city officials of violating a requirement that buildings must be compatible with nearby residential areas, and that developers mitigate light, noise and traffic concerns.
The six residents previously sued Louisville’s planning commission and Topgolf in November over a lighting plan.
“They will lose the ability to enjoy their property in the way they are entitled because of the many resulting violations of the Comprehensive Plan and the Land Development Code, including, but not limited to, the lighting, the structure height, the noise and the traffic,” the new lawsuit says. “In addition, the value of their properties will diminish substantially.”
Topgolf attorney Cliff Ashburner said in a statement that each decision was made lawfully and based on "overwhelming evidence," and he contended that residents won't be disrupted.
Topgolf experts produced studies that showed, for instance, that there will be a 50 percent reduction in light produced at the new facility compared to what’s now at Oxmoor. There have been no independent analyses conducted.
Ashburner also said residents failed to refute the conclusions of experts hired by Topgolf.
"We're confident this delay tactic from a small group will fail in the courts and we look forward to bringing Topgolf to Oxmoor Center," he said.
A local spokesperson for Topgolf believes the lawsuits will affect the project's timeline. Instead of pursuing permits and drawing up an architectural plan, he said Topgolf won't pursue any significant progress until it sees which way the court is going to go.
The lawsuits have been filed by attorney Porter on behalf of residents Peggy L. and Bryan C. Barber; Gerald J. and Helen M. Nicolas; and Sheila M. and David J. McLaughlin. They are among the closest Hurstbourne neighbors to Christian Way across from Oxmoor.
The plaintiffs declined to speak to reporters.