La Crosse Common Council defers vote on Bethany Lutheran Homes rezoning proposal for 30 days

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The La Crosse Common Council referred voting on Eagle Crest Communities’ rezoning request Thursday, in part because of neighborhood opposition.

The senior living center is hoping to add a four-story building for 60 senior living units on its Seventh Street campus. With this addition, it hopes to eventually give its residents their own rooms.

“They’re really trying to accommodate end-of-life care, where people want to have their privacy and retain their dignity,” said Tim Acklin, the city’s planning administrator.

Rezoning is needed to allow the building.

“The existing zoning doesn’t allow anything above 3 and a half stories… and they want to build a four-story,” Acklin said.

The new building, if approved, would go behind the property’s chapel, which Acklin said is a vacant property surrounded by existing buildings.

The rezoning could allow for up to 10 stories, though the facility plans to add only four.

Debra Howe, who lives across the street from the Eagle Crest property, is concerned about the rezoning implications. She says she isn’t alone in her concerns.

“We’re not opposed to the nursing home or the people that live here. It’s just the future of having more than one four-story building over here; that’s the scary part,” Howe said.

She also worries it could disturb the neighborhood in an area where parking could already be a challenge.

“But going from a one story to a four story, and maybe a five story? That doesn’t quite fit with the neighborhood,” Howe said.

The Planning and Development Department recommended approval, but the common council voted to defer a decision for 30 days.

“We didn’t feel that was fairly detrimental to that surrounding area — there’s already a large complex just to the north. There isn’t really room for them to build a much larger facility and increase their density; that lot is already there,” Acklin said.

Some neighbors of Eagle Crest have also proposed an alternative: that the city authorize only one, four-story building.

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