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Topgolf already has a location open in Hillsborough County.

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Carillon residents ask a judge to block Topgolf development in St. Pete

The residents say the city didn’t allow public input.

A group of residents in St. Petersburg’s Carillon area is suing the city over plans to build a Topgolf recreational facility.

The more-than-67,000-square-foot facility is planned where a 250,000-square-foot office building had previously been approved. Large developments typically require public input before city approval, but St. Pete approved Topgolf’s application administratively, avoiding normal public discourse.

The city considered the modification to the site plan “minor” and therefore handled it in-house without an open public process.

In a lawsuit filed Oct. 30, a group of residents in Carillon area neighborhoods listed as Concerned Citizens of Carillon Inc., argue the city was wrong to consider the modification minor because the original land use approval did not consider a recreational, non-enclosed outdoor recreation facility.

Topgolf filed an application to build the St. Pete facility in 2019. Its application was approved in May. The company operates multi-level climate-controlled driving ranges and serves chef-quality fare and hand-crafted cocktails. They also offer event space for corporate events, which the city claimed made the Carillon location ideal because of its proximity to several large companies like Raymond James and HSN in the area.

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The Concerned Citizen complaint included 14 individuals who live in the area, but only one is named — Jason Liu, a corporate attorney for the Largo-based company Bare Board Group.

This isn’t the first time the city has come under fire for its land-use and development approval processes, but such controversial developments typically are planned in or near downtown and involve residents complaining about the size and scale of large developments.

The city of St. Pete does not comment on pending litigation.

The Topgolf facility, unless a judge grants the complainants’ request to block development, is expected to open next fall.

The Topgolf facility is expected to create 400 full- and part-time jobs and offer more than 100 hitting bays.

The company opened a similar facility in Hillsborough County in 2014.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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