Author Archives: Jane McNeel

About Jane McNeel

Bellaire resident since 1956. Email: bellairebcc@gmail.com. Find more information on 'About This Site' in the main menu.

4800 Fournace Place – Tentative – Planning and Zoning Meeting – October 10, 2019

The consideration for the Bellaire Place’s six applications is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 6 PM. Please note that this will extend the written comment deadline to October 2, 2019 at 5 PM. Written comments regarding the … Continue reading

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All That Debt – Where Has The Money Gone?

Based on the actual figures from the Harris County Tax Office our property tax revenues increased from $15.4 million in 2015 to $21.9 million in 2019.  Over $6 million dollars in 5 years.   That’s a 42% increase!  Not including any increases … Continue reading

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Tax and Spend – Bellaire Council’s Budget Session #3

We learned from the third budget session, held on August 26, 2019, that our appraised property values have appreciated and Bellaire’s property tax revenue for 2019 may increase by about $1.3 million. The City Manager announced that this allows a … Continue reading

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Bellaire Property Taxes Up 25% Over The Next 5 Years?

At the first of several City Council meetings and workshops to discuss next year’s budget, Bellaire’s City Manager had a go at shaming Bellaire residents for petitioning to vote on 4 or 5-foot wide concrete sidewalks in their front yards.  In … Continue reading

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4800 Fournace & 5901 South Rice – Development & Apartments – Undermining Residents and Our City of Homes

UPDATE: Another Public Hearing was held on August 8, 2019. The developer’s request for 85′ height in the CMU.   Even though the property is not zoned for CMU.  Meanwhile the original requests from 7/11/2019 have been put on hold, no … Continue reading

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Bellaire Planning and Zoning – More Harm Than Good?

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Planning and Zoning I want to preface this article with one piece of information.  Many Bellaire residents point to the Rice Village as an example of shops in West University.  It is not.  The shops and the huge apartment complex … Continue reading

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4301 Bellaire Blvd – Can We Trust Our Zoning?

August 6, 2019: There was good news for Bellaire residents as City Council voted 6 to 1 at the August 5, 2019, Council meeting to retain the existing residential zoning in the Bellaire Boulevard Estate Overlay District (BBEOD).  Only outgoing … Continue reading

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What Is The Swift Tower Update? What’s Next For The World Trade Center Piece?

This is from a City Council Meeting Overview issued on October 2, 2018: Presentation of the City of Bellaire World Trade Center Memorial Project, including updates on proposed concepts, stakeholder input, and private fundraising strategies. No action was requested of … Continue reading

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Flood Mitigation Task Force Meeting March 26, 2019

I watched the recent Flood Mitigation Task Force meeting held on March 26, 2019, available on Facebook.  The focus was streets and drainage.  How to prioritize what streets get fixed first.  Suggested ranking criteria was first discussed – how many … Continue reading

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How Much Debt Is Too Much?

Over half of the $23.38 million in bonds approved in 2016 for Water and Wastewater Improvements did not go toward new water or sewer lines.  It was devoted to a contract with Siemens for new water meters and improvements to … Continue reading

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How Is Our City Money Being Managed?

Don’t be fooled by recent City Council votes on sidewalks.  Five foot wide sidewalks are still the standard with street reconstruction.  The stand-alone sidewalks have been shelved but the funds have not been redirected by City Council to other projects … Continue reading

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Council Votes 6 to 1 To Proceed With The Spruce/Fifth St Project at 2/18/2019 Meeting

NOTE: The State of the City Powerpoint presentation from February 4, 2019, can be found at the end of this article. Despite the large number of speakers at recent City Council meetings who opposed the Spruce/Fifth St project as planned, … Continue reading

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15. Bellaire’s 10th Decade 2000 – 2008 A Centennial Year

Welcome to Bellaire in the first decade of the twenty first century.  From 9/11/2001 to Bellaire’s Centennial year of 2008.  A new city manager, new parks, more bonds for streets, drainage and sidewalks, aquatics centers and municipal facilities.  Zoning changes, … Continue reading

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What’s All This About Downtown Redevelopment in Bellaire?

Do We Value Our Small Businesses? Can’t the appearance of downtown Bellaire be improved without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to drive out our longtime businesses?       We already have everything we need to remain a successful and … Continue reading

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About Those Bids for Spruce and Fifth + Maple and Bolivar

UPDATE 2/18/2019:  Find the breakdown for the final proposed cost of $5,200,890.50 for the Spruce/Fifth ($2.5 million) and Maple/Bolivar ($1.76 million) projects – plus $1 million to the engineering companies.   About 10% of the 2016 bond issue.  The project was … Continue reading

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2019: Drainage Plan – Town Hall Meeting – Spruce St

The highlight of the December 17, 2018, Council meeting was the presentation a Bellaire Master Drainage Concept Plan, beginning with a proposed interlocal agreement among Bellaire, TX-DOT, and the Harris County Flood Control District.  Bellaire is located at the east/southeast … Continue reading

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A Master Plan For Wasteful Spending – While Harming Local Businesses

At this point the proposed date for Council’s approval of the project is February 18, 2019.  A pdf of the presentation can be found here: 1_7_19_Spruce&Fifth         The City of Bellaire seems determined to narrow 60 foot wide commercial streets to … Continue reading

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City Council Update on Spruce/Fifth St Leads To An Unpleasant Exchange; The 4th Quarter Financial Report Is Available

At the November 19th City Council meeting, Denton Ragland, CEO of the Bellaire Business Association, made a presentation promoting a campaign to encourage residents to ‘Stay Local to Bellaire Resources’  and stay loyal to their local businesses, then City Manager … Continue reading

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Yes to Chevron Property, No to Car Wash, Pause in the Sidewalk Saga

At the November 5, 2018, City Council meeting a specific use permit for a car wash business at the corner of Bellaire Blvd and Ferris St. was not approved.  The vote was 5 to 2, with Council members Pappas and … Continue reading

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Property Values, Tax Increase, and Our Burgeoning Debt – Good Evening, Mayor and City Council,

Preface: In order to maintain our current revenue stream City Council has agreed on an increase to our property tax rate from $ .4159 to $ .4313 for tax year 2018 to compensate for the lower property values on the … Continue reading

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How Do City Bonds Work?

Many city governments find themselves up against a wall when they need money for day-to-day operating expenses, building new structures, improving existing structures or making repairs. Ongoing expenses, including employee wages, maintenance andinsurance, plus periodic projects including building schools, improving … Continue reading

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Bellaire: A City Divided

UPDATE: Recent information has been received.  Find out what streets in the Group D Phase 1 and Phase 2 are approved for sidewalks and what streets have been removed.   Read it here.  A few weeks ago, out of the … Continue reading

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Spruce Street – Not In My Backyard! But The City Manager Just Won’t Give Up. Why?

You’ve heard the phrase ‘Not in my backyard’, right? This Spruce St/Fifth St project is everyone’s back yard. We tend to spend most of our home time in our neighborhood, but just about everyone in the City spends some time … Continue reading

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A 4 to 2 Vote and We Get 5 Foot Sidewalks

Preface: On August 15, 2016, City Council approved a motion to call a bond election for November 8, 2016, for $53,980,000.  Four propositions were initially discussed:  1) street and drainage facility improvements for $20 million); the construction of new municipal … Continue reading

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Open Letter to City Council: Debt

Dear Mayor and Members of City Council, As you work towards the 2019 City budget and the possibility of another $45 or 50 million dollar bond issue I’d like to suggest the following.  First, check out the Comptroller’s

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Stand-Alone Sidewalks On Hold For Now

Preface: On August 15, 2016, City Council approved a motion to call a bond election for November 8, 2016, for $53,980,000.  Four propositions were initially discussed:  1) street and drainage facility improvements for $20 million); the construction of new municipal … Continue reading

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The Community Pathways Plan Hits A Dead End At Bellaire City Council

Bellaire City Council faced a large crowd of Bellaire residents who turned out for the August 6th City Council meeting.  The Council chambers and the City Hall atrium were full, and resident after resident spoke their mind on the Pathways … Continue reading

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City of Bellaire- Proposed Budget FY 2019

  View the August 13th City Council Session on the Proposed Budget:  http://bellairecitytx.iqm2.com/Citizens/SplitView.aspx?Mode=Video&MeetingID=1880&Format=Agenda

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Bellaire Community Pathways – And The Nightmare on Spruce and Fifth Streets

UPDATE:  City Council has tabled this plan but did not vote it down.  Unless it returns for consideration and approval it will sit on the same shelf as the Branding proposal, available for a rerun in the future. The latest … Continue reading

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Are You Covered? Up To Date on Your Flood Insurance?

Even as we enter another hurricane season many residents in Bellaire and the Houston area continue to suffer from the damage and the costs of Hurricane Harvey. Numerous homes have yet to be repaired with the owners living in them … Continue reading

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P&Z Does Not Approve the Pathways Plan – Due to Move On To City Council for Review

Streets shown on current maps: 8 feet wide path – South Rice, Evergreen, Fournace, Newcastle; 6 feet wide  path – Maple, Alder, Chimney Rock, Ferris, Anderson/Second, Englewood, Avenue B, Mulberry, Sunburst.  (This Plan is not part of the sidewalk project … Continue reading

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Do We Need A Revolving Door At The New City Hall?

When a new City Manager takes the reins in Bellaire we might expect that he or she would bring a former executive assistant along, someone already in tune with their style of management.          

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Pathways Project – The Latest Version

UPDATE: The Pathways Plan was  presented to Planning and Zoning on Thursday, July 12th.  The Meeting video is  available to view online. P&Z voted unanimously not to recommend the Plan to City Council at this time.  The Pathways Project will … Continue reading

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Council Priorities and the Minutes of the Pre-Budget Planning Workshop

Final version of Council Priorities:  https://www.bellairetx.gov/DocumentCenter/View/18482/Council-Priorities—Adopted-61818?bidId= Find it here: Council Priorities 2018-06-18.  Take a look at the overview – the Chevron property;  the costs to the city from Hurricane Harvey – $3.5 million, much of that will be reimbursed by FEMA … Continue reading

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The City Manager’s 7 Steps To Beautify Bellaire

Here are the City Manager’s 7 easy steps to beautify downtown Bellaire: 1) Take the 60 foot wide commercial Spruce Street that runs behind a large grocery store, contains no small retail stores or boutiques, and is traversed daily in … Continue reading

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Spruce and Fifth Street Neighborhood Meeting – What Will Happen To Local Businesses?

Some background: In March of 2018 Public Works presented a plan to City Council to reconstruct the 5100 and 5200 blocks of Spruce St. and three blocks of North Fifth by the new H-E-B grocery. The plan would add public … Continue reading

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What’s With All These Bellaire Plans and Studies?

The City Council and the City Manager are fond of referring to various plans and studies to justify expenditures, sometimes on questionable projects and more studies.  We hear about the Comprehensive Plan, the Branding Study, Terrain Studios and something called … Continue reading

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Bellaire Agenda: Mayor and Council Special Session (Pre-Budget Planning Workshop)

Thursday, May 3, 2018, the Mayor and City Council will hold an all day pre-budget planning session in the Centerpoint Energy Community Center, located over the entrance to the Aquatics Center.  For those residents unable to attend the Session you … Continue reading

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Pathways Plan Is Under Scrutiny

Residents are speaking out in opposition to the proposed Pathways Plan.  The cost may be paid by the 2016 Bonds for  Better Bellaire funds for Streets, Drainage and Sidewalks.  The estimated cost could exceed eight million dollars.  You’ll find more … Continue reading

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Takeaways from April 16th City Council Meeting

Substandard and Abandoned Houses Substandard and abandoned houses were an early topic of last Monday’s regular Council meeting. After numerous complaints from residents on Nextdoor and articles in the Southwest News about abandoned houses the City Manager provided a PowerPoint … Continue reading

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City of Bellaire – A Bully Pulpit Or Just A Bully?

Why would a City choose to harm its small businesses?  Spend hundreds of thousands  of dollars to do so? In November of 2016 Bellaire voters gave the City Council and City Manager a big pot of money – right at … Continue reading

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City of Bellaire Website – User Friendly?

Have you tried to find information on the City of Bellaire website?  One example: search for City Council agenda packets.  You’ll find the calendar for the current month where you can click on the Council meetings.  The next best possibility … Continue reading

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Is Our City Logo Still An Issue?

Ever wonder if the $50,000 Branding Study has gone away? Despite the tepid to downright comical response to the meaningless logo presented to City Council in January 2018, there’s been no word from the City that the contract with the … Continue reading

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Who Is Promoting the Spruce Street Project? And Why?

This excerpt is from the most recent City newsletter, The Boulevard: Group C Phase II: Streets, Drainage and Sidewalks project – There are five street blocks identified in this project. Three of the street blocks are adjacent to the HEB … Continue reading

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What’s the Hallway in the new City Hall that will house art?

Per the April 11th Cultural Arts Board agenda, Item D: DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION – Recommendations to name the hallway in City Hall that will house art. – Chair Terry Leavitt-Chavez What art?  Donated or Purchased? Here’s the agenda: Cultural … Continue reading

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Article from the Houston Chronicle – Warning of More Flooding Ahead

This is a link to an article in Sunday’s Houston Chronicle (April 1, 2018) that issues a warning about our flood plain maps and our future under the new normal of climate change.  You can find information on Bellaire’s flood … Continue reading

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Bellaire History is at your fingertips thanks to Lynn McBee

Bellaire has come a long way and thanks to longtime resident Lynn McBee the City’s history will unfold on this web site.  Just click the menu item for Bellaire History and enjoy a good read!

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Why This Sudden Interest in Spruce Street?

When Bellaire voters approved a bond issue for $24 million dollars for Streets, Drainage, and Sidewalks with the explanation that ‘Projects will address replacement of streets and drainage systems in order to reduce the occurrence of flooding and improve street … Continue reading

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How Does the City of Bellaire Spend Taxpayer Money?

As of 2016 the City of Bellaire had over $104 million dollars in outstanding debt, $5600 per person, which is much higher than any of the surrounding municipalities.  Almost a quarter of the  of the City budget, about $9 million,  … Continue reading

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What was included in the 2016 Bellaire Bond Election?

Mentioning bonds in a prior post, I wondered where the City or Council planned to find the $8 million plus for Pathways or the $4.1 million for the Spruce Street upgrade. In 2016 Bellaire voters approved the sale of $54 million … Continue reading

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Branding, Pathways, Spruce St – What’s Up at Bellaire City Council?

Are you aware of the Branding Study?  Over $50,000 has been spent as of March 15th but the cost could climb!  The result was a new logo to replace our longtime and much loved one.  It’s a B with a … Continue reading

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