Apartment visions return to the Planning & Zoning Commission Jan. 11, but its leaders will gather before then to hear a former city manager’s request.

The Tuesday, Dec. 29 P&Z session will give commissioners a chance to review minutes from its last proposed West Loop apartment discussion on Dec. 2.

At that point, the commission voted 6-0 to reject TriArc Asset 5’s request for a Planned Development zone covering roughly 26 acres on the West Loop at the South Street intersection to create a two-phase, total 400 unit complex with a list of amenities.

Now, the group knows city council has ordered it to reconsider and has called a joint session on Jan. 11 to be there when P&Z returns to the subject.

“It’s an unusual situation. We’re in uncharted waters,” P&Z Chairman Jeff Fuechec said Wednesday. “The way I looked at it, it’s a very large project. I’m not sure they have the economics to make it successful ... it will be real interesting to see what changed.”

A 200- to 260-unit Plan B apartment complex is the major change, according to developer plans presented to city council Monday. That much more tightly spaced project with far fewer city restrictions can be built at anytime, according to City Attorney Ronny Collins.

That new piece of information is worthy of consideration, Mayor Chris Barbee said.

“The developer says he is proceeding with purchase of the 26 acres despite the P&Z’s 6-0 vote to deny rezoning. He told me today (Wednesday) that the money has been wired and closing is set for Dec. 29,” Barbee said. “I think maybe the P&Z thought TriArc would go away if denied its Planned Development zone. Reportedly, that is not the case.

“The developer has assured me and city hall he will either develop a luxury planned development complex consisting of up to 260 units in Phase One if he is successful in getting the current C1, C2 and R1 properties rezoned PD, and if not, he says TriArc will go to a Plan B option on the current C2 property.”

The city would not be able to place restrictions on what type of apartment complex could be constructed on the roughly 10-acre section that is already zoned C2 aside from those in the building codes for safety purposes.

“P&Z commissioners and members of city council need to understand they cannot stop TriArc once it owns the property,” Barbee said. “If TriArc does proceed with Plan B if Plan A is denied, El Campo will miss the best opportunity ever to acquire a luxury apartment complex of this sort. We’ll still get an apartment complex, it just won’t be as nice. And instead of a maximum three stories on a few buildings in Plan A, the Plan B project could be as high as four stories, according to the developer.”

The planned development TriArc is seeking, according to City Planning Director Jai McBride, allows for El Campo to place more restrictions on the project – a fence surrounding the complex for example with trails inside that fence rather than leading to the Tres Palacios Creek itself, for example, or limiting building height to three stories or the direction windows and/or patios face.

Property zoned C1 on the West Loop or any other location can be used for a furniture store, bank, coin operated laundry mat, restaurants serving alcohol, fitness center, retail stores or a used car lot, for example.

The C2 zone is designed to accommodate higher traffic. Aside from apartment buildings, it can house all C1 uses as well as boat and RV sales and services, car dealers, bowling centers, some manufacturing facilities, contractor’s yards, eating and drinking places including those with drive throughs, funeral homes, hospitals and sanitariums, liquor stores, pawn shops, theaters, vet clinics, water bottling operations, wholesaling and warehouses among other businesses.

Discussion will restart at the upcoming session.

Tuesday, only the meeting minutes from the last P&Z debate are up for contention along with a request from Jeff and Mindi Snyder to zone three acres on Wilson Road R1 for single family housing.

The property is currently vacant land.

The Snyders are requesting annexation and access to city utilities at the same time.

No negative impacts are anticipated by the request, according to staff review.

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