Economy

The Louisville Metro Council voted Thursday evening to grant zoning changes that will allow Topgolf, a high-tech driving range and entertainment center, to open a location at the site of the closed Sears store at Oxmoor Center.

Members voted 20 to 3 in favor of approving the changes. But the proposal has raised passions among supporters who say Topgolf will be a valuable attraction and employer, and residents of nearby Hurstbourne, who say it will affect their property values and flood their neighborhood with lights, sound and traffic.

Earlier this month, a group of Hurstbourne residents filed a lawsuit over lighting waivers approved in October by the Louisville Metro Planning Commission. Their attorney, Steve Porter, said the proposal does not fit within the city’s Land Development Code.

The Planning Commission unanimously recommended that Metro Council approve the zoning requests in mid-October, and earlier this month the Council’s Planning Committee voted to send the issue to the full Council.

Councilwoman Marilyn Parker, of District 18, has been consistent in expressing worry that the development would negatively affect her constituents who live nearby. She reiterated some of their concerns at the Thursday meeting. She said it wasn’t just lighting or sound or traffic that would affect Hurstbourne residents; rather, it’s the cumulative effect of all these factors that upset them.

“They don’t oppose Topgolf coming here, most of them like Topgolf. They just don’t want it in their backyard,” Parker said, repeating a common refrain by opponents.

She was joined in her “no” vote by Julie Denton of District 19 and Stuart Benson of District 20. All three are Republicans.

Parker succeeded in convincing her colleagues to pass an amendment requiring Topgolf to post a bond to pay for the removal of the 175-foot poles that hold up its netting if the business leaves Oxmoor Center, in a 12 to 11 vote. She said the bond would cost about $4,000 a year. The company was granted a variance for those poles, which are also a point of contention for nearby residents.

She proposed two other binding elements, which would have dictated how late the facility could keep lights on and set its closing time at midnight, including on weekends. Both failed to pass.

Opponents still have the opportunity to file another lawsuit to stop the Topgolf project.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.