Topgolf rendering

Topgolf rendering 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The legal battle over Topgolf’s plans for Oxmoor Center will begin playing out this spring.

A judge has set a May 23 hearing in the lawsuits brought by Hurstbourne residents who have challenged Metro government approvals of the project’s lighting package and zoning change.

And Jefferson Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith has ordered the parties to submit written briefs no later than April 8 and responses and other documents by May 14. Topgolf lawyers had wanted those deadlines about a month earlier.

But at a hearing on Feb. 11, neighbors’ attorney Steve Porter said that wasn’t enough time. He noted that he needs to review 13 hours of video recordings in the cases, and that the large law firms representing Topgolf and other defendants have hundreds of attorneys and staff members.

“I’m a sole practitioner. I cannot do this in 18 days,” Porter said. “I need the 56 days, your honor.”

In a sometimes joking exchange with attorneys, the judge described the case as “multiple Davids” versus “several Goliaths.” Ultimately, she agreed with Porter’s request.

Peter Cummins, an attorney for Oxmoor owner Brookfield Properties Retail, argued that some records have been filed for weeks, and others for a month, and he contended that the “legal issues are very simple.”

“It just doesn’t have to drag out that long,” he said. “Meanwhile, this space in Oxmoor mall is sitting empty. It’s just doing to drag on, drag on, drag on.”

Dallas-based Topgolf announced plans last winter for its first Kentucky driving range-and-entertainment complex at Oxmoor. The shuttered Sears store would be demolished to accommodate it.

But some neighbors have raised concerned about the impact of traffic, lights and noise. In the months that followed, the city governments of Hurstbourne and Bellemeade took positions against the rezoning at Oxmoor.

At marathon public hearings last fall, supporters of Topgolf’s Oxmoor plans sought to make the issue about Louisville’s progress, while opponents argued that the development doesn’t belong near any residential neighborhood.

The Louisville Metro Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the Metro Council grant the rezoning and other approvals in October. The council voted 20-3 In November to rezone 22 acres, allow a permit for a driving range and give other exemptions from land-use rules, such as 175-foot-tall poles that would anchor Topgolf nets.

A spokesman for Topgolf said this week the company is “confident” the court will uphold the approvals.

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Marcus Green joined WDRB News in 2013 after 12 years as a staff writer at the Louisville Courier-Journal. He reports on transportation, development and local and state government.