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Plan Commission disapproves of Pudge's Bar expansion again

The Hudson Plan Commission has again recommended against waiving off-street parking requirements to allow for an expansion of Pudge's Bar.

The exact vote on owner Michael Murphy's latest proposal was unclear, but three of the five commissioners present at the March 10 meeting opposed the waiver.

After a motion by Tim Caruso and second by Fred Yoerg to recommend that the City Council deny the waiver request, Mayor Jack Breault, chairman of the Plan Commission, called for a voice vote. A brief silence followed when Breault asked who was in favor of the motion, and he quickly requested a show of hands.

Caruso and Yoerg raised their hands in support of the motion. Breault then raised his, too, and said the motion had carried.

He didn't ask who was opposed to the motion. Plan Commission members Carah Koch and Don Gilbert also were in attendance. Bob Bieraugel and Don Mailloux were absent.

Last year, the city rejected Murphy's plan to build an addition to Pudge's over the bar's parking. Officials said a city ordinance would require him to provide one off-street parking space for every two customers the addition would accommodate.

Murphy recently came back to the city with a plan to convert the second floor of his building into a billiards and game room. He said the off-street parking requirement doesn't apply to the project because he wouldn't be adding onto the building. The second floor of the building is currently houses residential apartments.

But Community Development Director Dennis Darnold said at last week's Plan Commission meeting that an elevator and staircase to the second floor of the building that Murphy plans to add is an expansion of the building.

Mayor Breault asked Murphy if he had attempted to lease private parking space like the owner of the recently approved Twisted Grille restaurant and music club has done.

Murphy said he hadn't, but that he had been out of town.

Yoerg urged Murphy to talk to neighboring business owners who are opposed the expansion to see if there is a way to alleviate their concerns.

Linda Casanova of Casanova Glassworks and John Kromer, manager and co-owner of The Spirit Seller liquor store, asked the commission to deny Murphy's request.

Casanova said she often finds litter on the property of her business next door to the bar.

Kromer said bar patrons would park in nearby lots belonging to other businesses.

Murphy contended that the litter in the area doesn't necessarily come from Pudge's patrons, and that employees of the bar make an effort to pick it up. He also disputed the assertion that there is a lack of parking in area at the times his bar attracts the most patrons.

He said the owners of The Spirit Seller have always opposed his business because they are competitors.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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