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Accessory dwelling plan passes La Crosse council committee, but still has opposition



A La Crosse city committee Tuesday voted almost unanimously in favor of plans to allow smaller houses, known as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), to be built next to existing homes.

The Judiciary and Administration Committee voted 6-0 to adopt the proposal for ADUs, with one member abstaining from the vote.

Council member Jennifer Trost believes the plan could help relieve housing needs in La Crosse.

“We know that a number of young folks are coming out of college with crushing debt,” Trost said during the meeting, “and so they are not gonna have the same kinds of options that have existed in the past. We know that people are having fewer children, and living longer, and so those are the pieces of evidence that this ordinance is based on.”

Critics of ADUs in the city are concerned that a large number of those homes could be built, or that the amount of rental property in town will sharply increase.

“The city of La Crosse knows exactly what is appropriate for the city of La Crosse,” Dave Morrison, a former city council member who spoke against the plan, said during public comments. “It’s not what’s appropriate for Madison, it’s not what’s appropriate for Oshkosh.”

An AARP of Wisconsin representative told the committee that ADUs would be a good option for older residents of La Crosse.

Morrison says La Crosse does not need to be expanding rental properties in the R-1 district.

J&A committee members Mackenzie Mindel and Mac Kiel joined La Crosse Talk PM on Monday, discussing the ADU debate.

Mindel pointed out during the show that Onalaska has allowed ADUs for nearly a decade and only around five have popped up.

“It’s going to be cost prohibitive,” Mindel said. “It’s going to be expensive to run water and sewer. … Like I said, they’re not going to be popping up like mushrooms in the back.”

She noted rules currently say no plumbing is permitted in accessory structures.

“That means, you can’t have your garage hooked up with water,” she noted. “Now, it will be adding, ‘except accessory dwelling units that conform to applicable standards in the plumbing code.’

“It just means that we previously didn’t allow water or sewer to go to your garage, if it’s detached — or a detached structure. This would say, ‘Now you can.'”

La Crosse Talk PM airs weekdays at 5:06 p.m. Listen on the WIZM app, online here, or on 92.3 FM / 1410 AM / 106.7 FM (north of Onalaska). Find all the podcasts here or subscribe to La Crosse Talk PM wherever you get your podcasts.

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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  1. Paul E Pierce

    January 31, 2024 at 6:24 am

    Instead of the property owner paying extra annual sewer, water, property taxes and all fees associated with new housing construction, they could subsidize a family members rent in an existing rental property.

  2. Realist

    January 31, 2024 at 1:02 pm

    I commented yesterday and it does not get posted, hmm

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