UPDATE: The public hearing by City Council for this application has been postponed to sometime in August 2020 or whenever meetings return to Bellaire City Hall.
As currently approved, the new baseball and softball fields approved by P&Z for use by HISD on the site of Gordon Elementary campus may require the removal of 51 trees on the site.
The new Bellaire High school campus could not accommodate space for a baseball field. The proposed solution by HISD was to build a field on the abandoned Gordon Elementary campus on Bissonnet at Avenue B. Demolish the existing school structures located in a residential R-3 zoned area and build a new baseball field. The premise for inserting these fields in a residential area is that they are still considered a school.
The HISD application for for a Specific Use Permit to repurpose the old Gordon campus for Bellaire High School’s baseball practice facility was submitted on October 10, 2017. The SUP request was approved 7-0 by P&Z at that meeting. Currently the Bellaire practices are held at Bayland Park.
But on November 14, 2019, HISD came back to P&Z with a request to change the approved site plan to include the construction of 2 fields, a softball facility and a baseball facility. The fields are being built to support less than 100 players plus coaches.
Currently 51 of the 84 trees on the HISD list would be removed. See page 3 of this 4-page document.
There will be a 45 foot high net around the fields to avoid balls hitting cars, people, and possibly homes. Usage includes practice and games and special events. Discussion during the meetings included possible future use by Bellaire Little League as well.
The plans include batting cages and future bleachers. The actual dimensions are not shown on the site plans, but an internet search provides information on standard dimensions. Here’s one link to on standard high school baseball field layouts.
A drive by the old Gordon campus makes one realize how many of the beautiful trees will be lost. Almost all the majestic old oaks along Avenue B and every tree on the interior of the site are scheduled to be removed.
A Public Hearing was held by P&Z on January 9, 2020. You can view that meeting here. Final approval was granted by P&Z on February 13, 2020. The meeting can be viewed here. The application will move on to City Council for a Public Hearing, scheduled for July 6, 2020. The next step would be for consideration and possible approval by Council, tentatively scheduled for July 20, 2020.
Meanwhile residents are worried about overflow parking into the residential areas, flooding from the compacted baseball and softball fields, and noise and activities during evenings and weekends. There are concerns about the protections accorded by our residential zoning in our City of Homes. And the loss of so many beautiful trees.
Please read this article: Trees fight flooding. Houston needs a lot more.
P&Z’s motion to City Council is to recommend approval of the amendment to SUP S-89 with the following conditions:
- No field lights or public address system shall be installed on the property.
- The facilities shall be for the sole and exclusive use of Bellaire High School and not by other entities without the prior consent of the City Council.
- The facility shall be locked when not in use. However, the City of Bellaire Police Department shall have access to the site at all times. The access plan shall be approved by the Bellaire Police Department.
- The facilities shall be used for only the following uses and times listed below.
Any other use shall require approval from the City Council. Bellaire High School varsity and junior varsity baseball and softball practices – weekdays during daylight hours and Saturdays until 5:30 p.m.
Bellaire High School junior varsity baseball and softball games, excluding tournaments – weekdays during daylight hours and Saturdays until 5:30 p.m.
Bellaire High School baseball and softball weekday or Saturday community events, not to exceed two events for baseball per year and two events for softball per year. For such events, an access/parking management plan shall be submitted to the City of Bellaire Development Services Director for review and approval prior to the event, specifically detailing overflow parking and access management considerations to minimize impacts to adjacent residential streets and to prevent excess traffic congestion on Bissonnet Street.
- The facility shall be constructed in accordance with the site plan presented, with minor modifications which do not affect the neighboring properties to be allowed with the approval of the City of Bellaire Development Services Director.
- Construction ingress/egress shall be limited to Bissonnet Street, specifically restricting construction access through Avenue B and/or Feld Park.
- The applicant shall attempt to preserve all mature trees to the degree possible.
- There shall be no net fill on the site nor significant impediment to sheet flow.
- The lowest visual impact netting material shall be utilized for all nets on the perimeter of the site. The netting on the third baseline of the baseball field shall be extended to protect parked cars.
But these are only recommendations to City Council, and it’s up to Council to require that they be part of any ordinance. Or Council can choose not to approve the application as presented. Why not suggest that HISD build a magnet elementary school in this location?
One last thought: Does anyoine wonder why HISD faces financial problems and our property taxes continue to increase?
Email comments to the Mayor and City Council via our City Clerk, Tracy Dutton, and request that Tracy forward your email: email@example.com