LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Metro Council has overwhelmingly approved the plans for a Topgolf at the Oxmoor Center after months of debate, meetings and protest.
The vote was 20 to 3 on Thursday night to change the zoning from C1 to C2 to accommodate the project.
Oxmoor Center has been rallying hard for Topgolf to take over the vacant store area where Sears once was.
Topgolf would completely change the south wing of Oxmoor, adding three restaurants with outdoor patios.
Some residents of the nearby City of Hurstbourne have loudly voiced their concerns about the project, citing lighting, noise and traffic.
Supporters of Topgolf say the venue will bring economic growth to the city, including 500 new jobs.
Two packed Planning Commission public hearings let those for and against Topgolf speak at length. Ultimately, the commission unanimously approved the project, sending it to Metro Council.
Three families filed a lawsuit in mid-November claiming the Planning Commission approved the installation of lighting that would be brighter and taller than what is allowed in the Louisville Metro Land Development Code.
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- Neighbors against Topgolf propose new location near Oxmoor
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- Topgolf, Oxmoor Center conduct studies to ease neighbors' concerns
Oxmoor officials have said they would lower the light poles at Topgolf from 50 feet to 30 feet, and add trees to help provide a buffer between the venue and the neighborhood.
During Metro Council’s meeting Thursday night, Councilwoman Marilyn Parker (R-District 18) mentioned other poles that would be 175 feet tall, she said. Those 28 poles would surround the field area of the business, holding up nets to protect the area from stray golf balls.
Parker wanted to add a binding element to the approval of the project that would require Topgolf to remove the poles if it were to go out of business.
She also moved to have Topgolf turn off its field lights one-hour after the close of business, and not turn them back on until 8 a.m. Topgolf said it cuts the lights to 50 percent at close.
“These (requests) are very reasonable," Parker said. “I’m asking for peanuts to try to mitigate some of the effect on the surrounding neighborhoods.”
After a lengthy discussion, council members agreed Topgolf should be required to remove its 175-foot poles from the property should it permanently close. That was passed narrowly with a vote.
Council members got very specific about the proposal to require Topgolf to turn off its lighting after the business closes each night.
Eventually they voted on whether or not to try to require Topgolf to dim its lights to 25 percent at the time of closing, then turn them completely off two hours after closing, and not turn them back on earlier than 8 a.m.
That failed with a vote of 11 to 12, with one abstention and two people not voting. (Councilwoman Angela Leet abstained from every vote, saying she would financially benefit from the development of Topgolf.)
Before the final vote on the entire project, Parker introduced a final push -- to try to force Topgolf to close at midnight each night, even on the weekends.
That failed by a wide margin, with only three council members voting for it, 20 voting against, one abstention and two people not voting.
“(It was a) long discussion with many admissions from the council that they didn’t know enough,” Steve Porter, an attorney representing neighbors opposing the plan, said.
Porter said he will be following up with his clients to see if they will file another lawsuit about the council’s decision to allow the project to move forward.
Though the final Metro Council vote gave the project a green light, the lawsuit could go to court and possibly delay the project.
Even without that legal battle, Topgolf said it would take at least 18 months to get up and running.
“We produced a lot of facts for the community to look at and it’s good that the council weighed in favor of what the facts showed," Tanner Micheli, director of real estate and development for Topgolf, said.
Oxmoor’s General Manager Kendall Merrick added: “We are just looking forward to going forward and offering something fantastic for the little community and the greater area.”
If the project happens, this Topgolf would be the first in the state of Kentucky.