Topgolf rendering

A circuit court judge ruled in favor of Topgolf, upholding the city’s approvals to allow the development to go forward. | Courtesy of TopGolf

Topgolf has the green light to move forward. A judge in Jefferson Circuit Court Thursday ruled to uphold the decisions by the Metro Planning Commission and Metro Council to approve the plans for the entertainment complex.

A group of neighboring citizens had strongly opposed the development, which is planned for the empty former Sears building at Oxmoor Center Mall, leading to a pair of lawsuits that ultimately were combined into a single case.

Judge Ann Baily Smith heard the cases May 23 and researched briefs filed by both Topgolf and the citizens opposed, who were represented by attorney Steve Porter.

Smith’s ruling reads, “Being sufficiently advised, the court affirms the actions of the Planning Commission and Metro Council, thereby dismissing both actions” filed by opponents. However, the judge’s statement declares that her order is appealable.

Topgolf attorney Clifford Ashburner issued this statement following being advised of Judge Smith’s decision: “This is a tremendous day for Louisville, Topgolf, and Oxmoor Center. The court has now confirmed what we have long known as true: Topgolf is right for Oxmoor Center. We applaud Judge Ann Bailey Smith, the Louisville Metro Council, and Planning Commission for their thoughtful and thorough evaluation of the facts, studies, and science behind the project throughout this year-long process.

The statement concludes, We look forward to breaking ground and bringing this exciting development to Louisville.”

Porter said Thursday night that he had not had ample opportunity to review Judge Smith’s decision. He said: “However, obviously my clients and I are disappointed and believe the Court’s decision is misguided. We will have no further comment until I have had a chance to study the opinion and discuss it with my clients. An appeal is certainly possible but no decision on that has been discussed or made at this point.”

A group of residents who live near the proposed development spoke out against Topgolf at a series of public meetings, then filed the lawsuits to stop it from happening after both the Metro Planning Commission and the Metro Council approved plans to allow it to go forward.

Those opposing the development are concerned about several possible nuisances they feel Topgolf will present to the neighborhood, including increased traffic, noise, glares from the lighting and other unwanted changes.

Porter’s key argument was that the initial applications Topgolf filed were under the names of companies not not certified in the state of Kentucky.

His argument was that this was an illegal filing and the judge should throw out the decisions of the Planning Commission and Metro Council. Smith instead ruled to uphold those decisions in this week’s decision.

The U.K.-based Golf i9nitially filed applications in February 2018 to build a three-story, 62,000-square-foot structure that would include 102 climate-controlled hitting bays where customers could sharpen their swings by driving micro-chipped golf balls onto a field. Topgolf has about 40 such complexes in the U.S. and U.K., including one in Cincinnati, and plan to open one in Louisville.

This story has been updated.