Manvel city council reluctantly approved a final plat paving the way for a 3-story, 320-unit apartment complex on 14.7 acres in the Southfork subdivision. The project will border the Orchard Park Retirement Community on land sandwiched between Southfork Parkway and SH 288, just south of CR 59.
Council has generally been disinclined to approve apartment development within the city but the subject property resides in the city’s ETJ where the city’s zoning authority does not extend. A developer agreement is in force for the development but the land to be used for the apartment complex was granted only as a commercial reserve.
The city’s attorney, Bobby Gervais, told council that their approval really amounted to little more than a formality as all submissions conformed to the requirements provided in the current city subdivision ordinance. “If they comply with our code you have to approve the plat.”
The Planning, Development & Zoning Commission (PD&Z) sent the plat to council with a favorable recommendation by a 4-2 vote. PD&Z member Brian Wilmer explained that the group was unanimously opposed to the plat but “we felt also that our hands were tied because they did meet the criteria.”
Mayor Martin said she is urging council to be more restrictive with apartment regulation, “which is the only other avenue that we have. We need to learn and not make the same mistakes again.”
City Manager Kyle Jung cited the situation as a prime example of the authority the city has within its limits as opposed to development outside its limits. Member Melody Hanson expressed that the heated annexation debate from last year was in large part driven by the likelihood of situations such as this.
No timetable on construction was offered.