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La Crosse council approves fish lab zoning, delays action on Bethany project



After weeks of heated debate, a zoning change has been approved for the former fish lab building in Riverside Park. 

Just one city council member opposed the plan to allow the building to be put to commercial use, for an AirBNB or a venue for wedding parties. 

Neighbors of the park have been vocal in their opposition, and council member Andrea Richmond said she’s troubled by the dealing that went on before the zoning was debated.

“I think it’s totally wrong, ” said Richmond, who claimed the city put the “cart before the horse” in negotiating with developers for months before requesting the zoning change. Opponents have called that unethical, and applauded Richmond for speaking out against how the project has proceeded.    

The actual development at the fish lab would have to be approved by the city park board before the council votes on it.       

Another council member, Mark Neumann, says he was hurt to read disparaging remarks people have made about the project.

“We hurt ourselves a lot when we presume that somebody’s doing something nefarious,” said Neumann, just elected to the city council this year. “We might be clumsy, but I don’t find any action that’s nefarious.”

On another project, the council voted to postpone a zoning change to let the Bethany Lutheran homes put up a 4-story building at its site on 7th Street.  Neighbors of the nursing home are concerned that the project could lead to construction of even taller buildings in the mostly residential area near the river.


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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