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.

High Level Endorsements For Andrea Ehlers!

The2021 election for City Council has been extremely contentious, with a slate of candidates opposing the lone woman in the race, Andrea Ehlers.  Although she is eminently qualified to serve, this slate and their associates are working to undermine those … Continue reading

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A Few Of Bellaire’s Many Comprehensive Plans

We hear a lot about Bellaire’s Comprehensive Plan, the one some Bellaire residents insist must govern our future zoning.  That it’s some sort of civic law or such. Well, for starters, what is a Comprehensive Plan?    

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Board of Adjustment Variance Request For Southwest Corner of Bissonnet @ Loop 610 – September 23, 2021

UPDATE 9/24/2021: The request for a variance was refused by a 4-to-3 vote. You can watch the meeting here.  One of the owners stated that prior to the purchase they had received a letter from AT&T assuring them that the … Continue reading

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North Bellaire Special Development District Updates

Update 11/24/2021:  P&Z essentially approved the three applications at the November 18th meeting, with an agreement to add some clarifications or conditions.  The Chairman will draft a written agreement for approval.  Once the P&Z process is complete the applications will … Continue reading

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Loss Of The 15% Discount For Flood Insurance – How And When Did This Happen?

UPDATE: City Notice: Community Rating System Open House and Community Discussion – September 8, 2021.   Bellaire residents were informed recently that as of October 1, 2021, they will not receive a 15% discount on flood insurance premiums.  Thanks to an … Continue reading

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Bellaire Church of Christ Requests Additional Parking Spaces For A Lot On South Rice

UPDATE 8/17/2021: On August 16, 2021, City Council approved the SUP request for the parking lot, with lot coverage at 80% plus some underground detention. UPDATE 7/23/21: Agenda item was postponed due to petition submissions.  It may be placed on … Continue reading

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The Next Step For SLS Properties (The Old Chevron Property)

On February 11, 2021, the Bellaire Planning and Zoning Commission approved proposed language for a new zoning district, the NBSDD (24-544 North Bellaire Special Development District), to replace the existing TRPD (24-544 Technical Research Park District) zoning on the former … Continue reading

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Another Last Minute Request For Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars

At the March 1, 2021, Council meeting Councilmember Wesely objected to an agenda item for a service agreement contract costing almost a half-million dollars.  A 95-page agenda item for $478,897.95, to be exact, for a 5-year contract for a Police … Continue reading

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Update on NBSDD Public Hearing on January 14, 2021

UPDATE May 25, 2021: The new zoning ordinance was approved by a 4 to 3 vote on May 24, 2021. Update: 2/12/2021: In a long and somewhat confusing meeting on February 11th the Planning and Zoning Commission essentially approved the … Continue reading

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North Bellaire Special Development District – The Great Wide Open!

For over 70 years the 30 acre Texaco/Chevron campus along Fournace between South Rice and what is now Loop 610 was a mix of offices and labs, running primarily on a 9 to 5 schedule five days a week. It … Continue reading

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The City Of Bellaire Is Now Dealing With Another Lawsuit

The Ongoing Saga Of Spruce and Fifth Streets The first lawsuit was filed by A Status Construction on August 27, 2020, and is unresolved at this time. The construction contractor claims they are due additional payment for work on Spruce/Fifth … Continue reading

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No Logo, No Welcome Sign – Just A Parking Lot At The Main Entrance To The City Of Bellaire?

UPDATE 4/16/2021:  An agreement has been reached between the City of Bellaire and the developers of Southside Commons.  The parking lot will be dismantled by Public Works.  The terms of the agreement are not yet available. UPDATE:  12/7/2020 – MM … Continue reading

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A Semi-Brief History of Evelyn’s Park: 1908 – 2020

Hopefully City Council’s unanimous decision at the November 16, 2020, meeting to deny the zoning applications by Evelyn’s Park Conservancy for the commercial parking lot at 4300 Bellaire Blvd will lead to the removal of that lot. If you are … Continue reading

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City Council in November: HISD Ball Fields, Bellaire Blvd Parking Lot, Debt Reduction, And A Search For A City Manager

HISD Application – Former Gordon Elementary Campus 11/4/2020 UPDATE:  No decision.  Council wants more information on the size of replacement trees.  Listen to the recorded meeting here. Find the list of conditions and field layout here. On November 2, 2020, … Continue reading

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September In The City! Our Wastewater Plant, The AT&T Property, The HISD Ball Fields, And The Bellaire Blvd Parking Lot!

After a quiet Labor Day things are picking up at City Hall.      

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Another Developer Wants A Variance – For 1.99 Acres on Bissonnet @ 610

NOTE: The BOA meeting was cancelled. Why will the Board of Adjustment, rather than Planning and Zoning, hear a request on September 17th (7 PM) from a developer for an amendment to a zoning ordinance for a Planned Development? Apparently … Continue reading

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A Primer on Bellaire P&Z: Updates, A 30 ft Minimum Height And A Zero Setback!

Many Bellaire residents point to the Rice Village as an example of small shops and boutiques in West University. It is not.  The shops and the huge apartment complex are in Houston.  West University would not allow that huge mixed-use … Continue reading

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City Council Is Back In City Hall, And Back In Action!

UPDATE 6/24/2020:  Mayor Friedberg announced that City Manager Paul Hofmann has been hired as the City Manager of Bastrop, TX, and  will be leaving Bellaire on August 2, 2020. The June 15, 2020, Council meeting was an in-person action packed … Continue reading

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Catching Up With Bellaire – As We Sheltered At Home

Sorry, this is a long article.  The health crisis and lack of in-person Council, commission, and board meetings have not slowed down the staff meetings and planning sessions at City Hall.  Click on items of interest below to read the … Continue reading

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South Rice Avenue In Front Of City Hall – Do We Have To Live With This?

Remember this? South Rice Avenue before the new City Hall/Civic Center was built?  Carefree driving with 2 wide lanes in each direction?  UPDATE:  At the June 15, 2020, City Council meeting the Mayor and members of Council voted unanimously to … Continue reading

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A Breath Of Fresh Air In Bellaire City Council Chambers

The recent Bellaire City Council meeting on March 2, 2020, which included a Workshop regarding Revised Street and Drainage Reconstruction Selection Criteria, once again revealed a marked change in attitude by Council members.      

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Bellaire’s Trend For Commercial Development – Residents Had Better Pay Attention

Members of the Bellaire Planning & Zoning Commission have been tasked with drafting proposed amendments to the Technical Research Park District (TRPD), for the purpose of creating a new zoning district, North Bellaire Special Development (NBSDD) District.

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City of Bellaire – Beautification or Boondoggle?

What’s the value of a City of Bellaire construction contract?  Apparently if you’re the owner of the company awarded contracts for the City Manager’s pet projects it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.     

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Bellaire Receives Grants For Bond Projects and an Urgent Care Center Is Approved

After submitting grant applications to various agencies Bellaire is the recipient of two grants to date.  A Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for $252,033.84, for flooding from 2015, will be applied towards the Group C Phase 3 bond project. specifically … Continue reading

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An Ornate ‘Streetscape’ Behind a Multi-Story Grocery Store? Why?

            Construction on Spruce and Fifth St. alongside and behind H-E-B began in late April of 2019.  The contract called for a completion date of February 15, 2020.  Promoted by the  City Manager and approved … Continue reading

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All That Debt – Where Has The Money Gone?

Since 1980 Bellaire voters have approved $199,980,000 in bond issues.  Most of that amount, $165,480,000, has been approved since 2000.  We currently owe about $123 million.  What do we have to show for all that debt?  Even though many homeowners … 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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Tax and Spend – Bellaire Council’s Budget Session #3 and Some Updates

UPDATE 9-27-2019:  On Wednesday, October 2, 2019, the City Council approved an increase the total tax levy for the 2019 tax year (fiscal year 2020) by 3.28% by proposing a tax rate of $0.4473 per $100 valuation.  Less then the … Continue reading

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

UPDATE 9-27-2019:  Some good news.  On Wednesday, October 2, 2019, the City Council meeting will include a presentation regarding a proposal to increase the total tax levy for the 2019 tax year (fiscal year 2020) by 3.28% by proposing a … Continue reading

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

UPDATE: A second workshop is to be scheduled during the week of October 28, with a public hearing to follow during the week of November 18, tentatively. The Commission would then vote at their December 12, 2019, meeting. Find recent … 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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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

Update – 10/15/2018:  Late summer and into the fall of 2018 residents protested and submitted petitions to remove their streets from the projects, and their requests were approved.  But most Council members still continued to vote in favor of installing … 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 6, 2018, City Council meeting.  The Council chambers and the City Hall atrium were full, and resident after resident spoke their mind on the … 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 the Pathways 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 … Continue reading

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

Update: Due to oversights in the Development Services Department, as of October 1, 2021, Bellaire residents lost the 15% rate discount on flood insurance.  Now FEMA is moving to a new methodology, Risk Rating 2.  Check with your insurance agent. … 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 – June 2018

UPDATE: Pathways Plan was ‘shelved’ by Ctiy Council on August 6, 2018.  The Pathways Plan was  presented to Planning and Zoning on Thursday, July 12, 2018.  The Meeting video is  available to view online. P&Z voted unanimously not to recommend … 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: On March 19, 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. (Watch the meeting here.) The … 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 is eight to twelve million dollars.  You’ll find … 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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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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