A new apartment complex is coming to El Campo, according to developers, but Monday it will be up to city council and its Planning & Zoning Commission to decide what kind.

TriArc Asset 5 wants to put in a 26.15-acre planned development on the West Loop at the South Street intersection, a $30 million gated development including an assortment of amenities including pools, walking trail, fitness area, dog park and more.

To proceed with their plans, however, TriArc needs either P&Z’s blessing during its council-ordered revisit of the developer’s vision and a majority council vote; or, should P&Z yet again say no, a six-vote council override.

“Everyone agrees that El Campo needs multifamily housing. Our local team and local investors have spent three years and several million dollars to meet this need,” TriArc CEO Joseph Bramante told the Leader-News Wednesday. “In good faith, we’ve redrawn our plans several times to address all the concerns that we heard.”

TriArc has closed on all three lots it needs, Bramante said.

Some of that land isn’t currently zoned for apartments and that’s why TriArc is requesting the planned development status.

About 10-acres, however, is already zoned for apartments. Construction there could start without the need for P&Z or council approval.

Either way, TriArc will be building, Bramante said.

“We are committed to helping El Campo address the need for multifamily housing,” he said. “Whichever option we build, we will design it to the best of our abilities. Obviously, Plan B is a smaller scale, so it cannot support the expense of many of the amenities and landscaping we had originally planned ... (it) will still be a win for El Campo as it satisfies the housing need, but not a grand slam like it could be with Plan A.”

The city’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan recommends the area as an apartment site. TriArc’s plan was reviewed by the city Inspections Department and received its support, but not P&Z’s.

P&Z rejected TriArc’s planned development Dec. 2. Council took up the issue on Dec. 21 voting 4-3 to send the issue to back to P&Z for further consideration.

“It’s an unusual situation. We’re in uncharted waters,” P&Z Chairman Jeff Fuechec said in the Dec. 26 edition. “The way I looked at it, it’s a very large project. I’m not sure they have the economics to make it successful.”

Fuechec resigned from the P&Z Commission Dec. 29. In a letter to council dated that day, he said, “It is time for younger leaders in the community to step up and serve with new perspectives and ideas.”

Bramante questioned the timing of Fuechec’s decision. 

“It doesn’t look good that the commissioner is resigning prior to this meeting. I wonder why?” he said.

Fuechec recommended council name one of his employees as a replacement.

“I want to thank Mr. Fuechec for serving on P&Z for more than two decades. He’s done a great job and the city and its residents owe him a debt of gratitude,” Mayor Chris Barbee said, but added the city will follow its standard website application process to determine who will replace Fuechec and when that will happen.

“As of Thursday afternoon, two El Campo residents had submitted an application to be considered for P&Z,” Barbee said.

P&Z will revisit TriArc’s planned development hopes in a joint session with council at 5 p.m. Monday in council chambers, 315 E. Jackson.

The issue then appears on the 6:30 p.m. Monday council agenda for a final decision.

Both meetings are open to the public with time specifically designated for citizen comments. Only 40 people will be allowed in council chambers because of social distancing requirements, a number that includes all board members and staff. Those attending must wear a mask.

Those unable to attend can submit their comments to council@cityofelcampo.org by 2 p.m. Monday to become part of the permanent record.

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