North Bellaire Special Development District Updates

Update 9/15/2021:  Find a link to the Public Hearing for this application here.

NOTICE OF A PUBLIC HEARING – Planning & Zoning
September 9, 2021 @ 6 PM in City Hall

SLS Properties’ application for development of the NBSDD, the old Chevron site, has been published by the City of Bellaire.  There will be a Public Hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday, September 9, 2021, at 6 PM in City Hall.  Find the full Agenda including detailed descriptions and renderings of the proposed development here, beginning on page 45 of the PDF.

The NBSDD ordinance was approved by City Council in a 4 to 3 vote on May 24, 2021, with some amendments. Voting in favor were Councilmembers Verma, Pappas, Fife and Mayor Friedberg.  Opposed were Councilmembers Lewis, Wesely, and Hotze.

Governor Abbott has ended the temporary Open Meetings Act suspension that has allowed governmental bodies to meet telephonically during the pandemic. This means you’ll have to come in person if you wish to speak during public comments at meetings of the City Council, as well as our boards and commissions governed by state law: the Board of Adjustment, Building and Standards Commission, and Planning and Zoning Commission.  Find the Mayor’s explanation here.

The P&Z meeting can be viewed live online on the City’s website, also on television on U-verse Channel 99, Comcast Channel 16, and on the City’s Facebook page. Audience Comments in person are timed at 3 minutes or less.  Public comments can also be sent to zoning@bellairetx.gov.


A Quick Update 5/26/2021: Most of the original uses for the North Bellaire Special Development District as suggested by Planning and Zoning were approved by City Council on May 24, 2021.

The NBSDD ordinance was approved by City Council in a 4 to 3 vote on May 24, 2021, with some amendments. Voting in favor were Councilmembers Verma, Pappas, Fife and Mayor Friedberg.  Opposed were Councilmembers Lewis, Wesely, and Hotze.

In addition to removing three possibles (o,p, & q) from the PD permitted uses at the May 3, 2021 Council meeting (see below), the changes include a 65′ setback from the homes on Mayfair (replacing a 35′ setback) and movie theaters (f) are removed from the list. However the 80% lot coverage and the lack of setbacks along Fournace and South Rice remain.  The City Attorney is working on the final language of the ordinance, which will be published on this site as soon as possible.       

Proposed Uses for Planned Developments

The uses that are highlighted in red are prohibited in the Chevron Special Covenants mentioned by Councilmember Wesely.  He proposed that they be removed from the list and they were, by a vote of 5 to 2.  Councilmembers Verma and Fife voted against.  Why would they feel those uses should remain?

(2) Planned Development: Applicants intending any use other than those permitted in the district by this subsection must propose a planned development under the amendatory procedures in Section 24-604. All such applications must meet the development standards detailed in this Section. Allowable uses inside a planned development may include a single use from the following list or a combination of two or more of the listed uses:

a) Business and professional offices and services;
b) Banks, credit unions and similar institutions;
c) General retail sales and services, excluding pawnshops, tattoo shops, head shops, vehicle sales and services, including service stations, vehicle washing, vehicle repair and vehicle storage;
d) Restaurants and cafeterias;
e) Bars, when accessory to a principal restaurant, hotel, commercial indoor amusement, movie theater, or theater use, and subject to the requirements of Chapter 3, Alcoholic Beverages, of the City Code;
f) Indoor movie theater;
g) Indoor athletic facilities;
h) Amusement, commercial indoor;
i) Studios for photography, art, music, dance or fitness activities;
j) Museums or art galleries;
k) Theaters, for live performances;
l) Hotels, as defined in Section 24-202(87), designed to where ingress to and egress from all rooms is made through an inside lobby;
m) Conference center facilities;
n) Medical offices and/or urgent care facilities;
o) Assisted living facilities; – Removed from List by City Council vote on May 3, 2021
p) Nursing homes; or skilled nursing facilities; – Removed from List by City Council vote on May 3, 2021
q) Hospital or emergency room; – Removed from List by City Council vote on May 3, 2021
r) Commercial parking garage operations, within multi-level and/or underground garage space as defined in Section 24-202(78), but not commercial surface parking lots (areas) as defined in Section 24-202(42).

(3) Temporary uses. Temporary uses in the NBSDD shall be authorized, permitted, limited in duration and subject to potential time extensions as provided in Section 24-505. Examples of such uses include:

a) Construction offices.
b) Public interest or special events.
c) Sidewalk sales and other outdoor sales events (e.g. farmer’s market).

Find the complete Agenda Item on the ordinance here, including basic zoning information, the current zoning (TRPD) and the proposed zoning (NBSDD).

Meanwhile, at the close of the May 17, 2021, Council meeting Mayor Friedberg’s apparent double standard on who is allowed to speak to a closed subject before Council was front and center.   

At the usual juncture for Public Comments in the Council meetings the Mayor stated: “As a reminder, oral public comment is limited to subjects other than the proposed North Bellaire Special Development District as oral comments can no longer be received following the close of the Public Hearing on that matter on April 5th” 

But that reminder fell by the wayside at the end of the meeting, aided by Councilmember Verma, who yielded his time to Mr. Danny Sheena, one of the developers of the old Chevron property.  The Mayor consented to this decision, and Councilmember Verma reminded Mr. Sheena not to consider a particular development at this time.  That reminder fell by that same wayside.  

Bottom line, fellow Bellaire residents?  If you or I make the wrong comment about a Public Hearing item during our 5 minutes, we are shut down.  Residents have been escorted out of Council meetings for talking out of turn.  But twice now, at both the May 3rd and the May 17th meetings, the Mayor allowed Mr. Sheena to skirt or directly speak to this “closed” issue. The second opportunity did not end well.  The video can be found at the end of this article.

The earlier portion of the 5-hour pre-budget workshop and regular session meeting had gone smoothly.  Speakers used the comment period to speak of the opening of the Southside Commons entertainment area and of short term rentals in Bellaire.  Properties are listed on VRBO and other short term/vacation rental websites.  Some residents are not pleased about people moving in and out within a few days.  Others feel it’s their property and so what?  Discussion focused on possible solutions.

Next up was more deliberation on the language for the proposed NBSDD zoning for the property sold by Chevron to SLS Partners in 2018.  Councilmember Lewis, who lives in the area north of the site, presented a PowerPoint overview of issues and suggestions for the development of the site.  She also expressed concerns about the City’s infrastructure costs if crowded development and more tall buildings were allowed. 

Council addressed the requirement to follow the Comprehensive Plan and the list of permitted uses for planned developments.  Some Council members addressed the traffic problems along South Rice and Fournace and impacts on the neighbors, others their concern about  35′ setbacks from residences, 80% lot coverage, and possible flooding. 

The meeting was drawing to a close at about 11 PM when Mr. Sheena was allowed to speak.  He took the opportunity to call out residents by name and to challenge Council comments about the NBSDD.  And things had gone so well up to that point… 

For me, the end of this meeting was one of the most shameful things I can recall during my 60+ years of attending City meetings in Bellaire.  My sense after watching that debacle is that most members of Council felt the same way and the meeting ended abruptly, full stop.  


Find the video of the 5/17/2021 Council meeting here, or skip to the last 5 minutes: https://bellairetx.new.swagit.com/videos/121593
Bellaire City Council Rules and Procedures – duties of the members of City Council

Read The Great Wide Open here and find the developer’s original proposal for development here:  4800 Fournace & 5901 South Rice – Development & Apartments – Undermining Residents and Our City of Homes? 

Find the language for the North Bellaire Special Development Area in the Comprehensive Plan; find the initial list of permitted uses for Planned Development in this article


You can email the Mayor and members of City Council via our City Clerk, Tracy Dutton, at tdutton@bellairetx.gov  Request that your email be forwarded to the Mayor and Council.

About Jane McNeel

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