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Apartment building gets council support over neighbor opposition

Brad Williams

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It looks like apartments will replace the former Big Brothers Big Sisters office on 5th Avenue in La Crosse, despite opposition from neighbors. 

The city council has approved a zoning change to allow an apartment complex to be built there. 

Council member Chris Kahlow points out many vocal objections have come from the Washburn neighborhood.

“More than 20 per cent of the neighbors did file legal objections, and I’ve had quite a few phone calls on this issues as well,” said Kahlow, “and I think that we should just support the neighbors on this item since I feel and trust that they know what’s best for their neighborhood.”

Another member of the council, Doug Happel, is concerned about reducing homelessness.

“The people who are working at the restaurants downtown who are not making a lot of money need to have a place to live,” said Happel. “Otherwise, we have homeless people.”

       

The 10-to-2 vote by the council on the re-zoning marked a turnaround at City Hall.  In March, one council committee had opposed the zoning change, only to reverse itself this month. 

Councilman Gary Padesky says people were opposed to building the La Crosse Center 40 years ago, and he suggests La Crosse “wouldn’t have a downtown” any more without that civic center.          

Padesky, from the 7th district, did not seek another term in this week’s election, and he chose to resign after last night’s council session instead of staying until the new council members are sworn in April 20th.  He will continue to represent the same neighborhood on the La Crosse County Board. 

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.