Retail, industrial and residential projects are under development in El Campo right now with permit requests funneling through a city planner who actually quit a month ago.

That hasn’t stopped Jai McBride from helping, officials say, but it does leave a job opening at the upper end of El Campo’s administration.

“It’s critical,” City Manager Courtney Sladek said, but added it’s not the kind of position the city expects to fill in just days, adding month is more likely.

It’s not optional, either, City Development Corp. of El Campo Executive Director Carolyn Gibson said.

“Planning and economic development go hand-in-hand. A knowledgeable planner is crucial for quality, managed and sustainable growth in our community,” she said. “It’s been a joy to have Jai in the position, she will be sorely missed!”

Large projects like Creekside Apartments are under development, but still have a lot of work to do before the public sees dirt work start in early 2022.

“Still working on designs. Clubhouse is getting enlarged to fit in the amenities the citizens requested on our survey,” TriArc Asset 5 CEO Joseph Bramante told the Leader-News, adding work continues on floor plans as well. “The price of lumber is falling so that’s great as well.”

The project, Gibson said, is vital for the city and one staff is working with closely.

“We need additional housing badly. Having available housing opportunities will allow us to recruit more workforce candidates from outside of our area.”

The apartments, however, are just one of the plans under development.

No delays have been encountered yet, Gibson said, “because I am still able to work with Jai McBride remotely. She’s been great to work with and very generous with her time when I have a question.”

McBride started with the City of El Campo in November 2018, coming from the City of Pearland with 15 years planning and GIS (Geographic Information System) experience under her proverbial belt.

She left the last day in July to pursue a job in the private sector.

Since the job was posted July 1, the city has received little interest in the position, “Not more than five (applications) received and one qualified,” Personnel Director Rene Garcia said. “Historically, this position has taken considerable time to fill.”

Planning director was the title while McBride held the job, the post is now referred to as the “Director of Development Services” although still focusing on the same efforts both long and short term.

McBride was hired at $85,000 annually with a master’s degree in administration from Southern University and an undergraduate degree from LSU.

She replaced Penny Hornsby, a planning director who took an unspecified medical leave on May 3, 2018 and never returned. The city paid her an unspecified $5,000 settlement as her job officially ended.

Hornsby, who had been on the job about two years, had been paid $65,000 annually.

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