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Fish lab lease, building height limit approved by La Crosse’s city council

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The plans for operating a new business in the old Riverside Park fish hatchery were approved by the La Crosse city council Thursday.

A 20-year lease to operate the fish lab as a party venue and a bed and breakfast passed nearly unanimously at the council’s December meeting.

Council president Barb Janssen had withheld her support until she saw detailed plans for the project. Now she’s backing it.

“I do feel that the project deserves a chance to succeed,” Janssen said. “I think that there’s a lot of enthusiasm and dedication to go towards this project, and it can be a tremendous asset to our city, if done right.”

Rezoning for the project had been a contentious topic for months, with neighbors of the park voicing concerns that an event center would bring crowds and loud parties, while others spoke out in support.

The leasing plan with Hatchery, LLC, passed with only council member Scott Neumeister from District 2 voting against it.

District 13’s Mark Neumann, in his first year on the council, said the discussion of the plans was a good demonstration of how local government works.

“There were people that were on both sides, and the issues were brought up, with courage and with just devotion because it takes time to get engaged,” Neumann said.

In other council business, taller buildings could soon be seen in some residential areas of La Crosse, following a change in zoning rules.

Council members voted to permit the height limit for structures in an R5 residential district to be raised to 55 feet.

That will allow the Bethany Lutheran nursing home on South 7th Street to build a four-story addition, providing more single-tenant rooms. Neighbors of the facility are wary of having high-rises built near their homes.

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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