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Hurstboune City Council Has Little Say In Topgolf Deal

Hurstbourne City Hall
City of Hurstbourne

As the proposal to build a Topgolf facility at Oxmoor Center moves closer to final approval, opponents who live nearby in the nearby fourth-class city of Hurstbourne are continuing to fight it.

Hours after the Louisville Metro Council Planning and Zoning Committee voted to send the project on to the full Council for a vote, dozens of Hurstbourne residents turned out at a meeting of their own city council to express both support for and opposition to the plan. And some are planning to sue to stop the project.

Residents have been voicing their concerns about Topgolf to Hurstbourne for months. But does its City Commission — which passed a resolution in March stating its opposition to Topgolf's requested zoning change — have the power to stop the development?

The answer, in this case, is no. That's because the spot Topgolf wants is not in Hurstbourne's city limits. It's next door.

"When it comes to zoning authority or being able to change anything, that originally goes through Louisville Metro," said Jim Leidgen, the City Administrative Officer for Hurstbourne. "We are not part of that process from an official capacity because it's not inside the city of Hurstbourne."

But if there were another proposal within the city, that would be another matter, Leidgen said.

Hurstbourne is what known as a "home rule" city, which means that it can govern inside its boundaries. It is one of several home rule cities, such as St. Matthews and Jeffersontown, within Jefferson County.

Leidgen said Hurstbourne taxes its residents and provides services such as road paving, garbage pickup and landscaping of public green spaces. And it has the legal authority to sign off on zoning changes within its boundaries.

"We have certain zoning authority and we can veto or amend or change what comes up from Louisville Metro," he said. "[A developer] has to come to the City of Hurstbourne for final approval."

Hurstbourne could move against a zoning change, or request that the developer include certain features — such as a sidewalk or right-turn lane — in its design, Leidgen said.

But for the Topgolf case, which is now closed to public comment ahead of a final Metro Council decision, Hurstbourne officials won't be able to do much more than relay their constituents' concerns to Louisville's Planning and Design department.

"We can come before the ruling body and offer our opinions, our comments, our concerns and then facts that we would use to back that up," Leidgen said. That would be similar to what citizens have done, but in this case, the input would be coming from an organized city.

Earlier this year, Hurstbourne city officials unanimously passed a resolution stating their opposition to Topgolf at Oxmoor Center, saying that there were many residents expressing "active and public opposition." At that time, the City Commission donated $3,000 to the neighborhood opposition group to retain attorney Steve Porter.

Porter will file a suit this week challenging Topgolf's lighting plan, which it is asking the city for a waiver for, he said in an email. His clients are opposed to what they see as excessive lighting that would come from the facility, and Porter said they are opposed to Topgolf locating next to any single-family residential neighborhoods.

Hurstbourne's Jim Leidgen said the city has no plans to be involved with any lawsuit against Topgolf.

The Louisville Metro Council could take up the Topgolf decision as soon as Nov. 29.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.