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Neighbor complaints lead to denial of plan for homeless resource center

Brad Williams

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A proposed resource center for homeless people in La Crosse might not go in the location that the charity would like. 

The city plan commission has denied a zoning change to allow a Catholic Charities office on 5th Avenue South, in order to make more shelter room for clients at the 3rd Street warming center. 

The denial comes after many objections from neighbors, saying the facility violates the master plan for the Washburn neighborhood. 

“Trucks coming up and down our alleys, food trucks in front of our doors, people will wind up every day, every morning,” says Reuben Halverson, one of the neighbors who worries about what the building would do to the neighborhood. “It’s gonna be constant chaos…now for me to accept that, I won’t.”

Homeowners also told the commission about the threat of crime, and asked to have the center moved to a commercial space downtown, or perhaps to the Holy Cross seminary.

The 5th Avenue site would not be a homeless shelter, but it would provide services for clients.

Officials with Catholic Charities said because of COVID-19, if the changes are not made, they might have to reduce the occupancy in the warming center from a maximum of 40 people to just 15.

The plan goes to a council committee tonight, and the full city council next week.      \

  Neighborhood opposition could force Catholic Charities of La Crosse to find a different location for a resource center it wants to open.  The organization wants to move some of its services for the homeless from the warming center on 3rd Street to a new office on 5th Avenue.  After hearing objections from neighbors of the proposed site, the La Crosse city plan commission denied the zoning change for the project.  Brad Sturm of the Catholic Charities board spoke in favor of the current plan:     Homeowners spoke about the fear of crime, and disruptions that homeless people could bring to the 5th Avenue area.  The plan goes to a council committee tonight, and the full city council next week.      \

  Neighborhood opposition could force Catholic Charities of La Crosse to find a different location for a resource center it wants to open.  The organization wants to move some of its services for the homeless from the warming center on 3rd Street to a new office on 5th Avenue.  After hearing objections from neighbors of the proposed site, the La Crosse city plan commission denied the zoning change for the project.  Brad Sturm of the Catholic Charities board spoke in favor of the current plan:     Homeowners spoke about the fear of crime, and disruptions that homeless people could bring to the 5th Avenue area.  The plan goes to a council committee tonight, and the full city council next week.      \

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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