Urban Renewal? PDs For 4800 Fournace & 5901 South Rice Avenue Are Approved

UPDATE 3/30/2022:  The last meeting on these PD applications, styled as Bellaire Place, was held on March 21, 2022, when a portion of the PDs was approved.  Here’s a link to that meeting.  After a Public Hearing in January and three successive Council meetings Council chose to approve approximately two of the Planned Developments for now, with an allowance to cover up to 70% of the area and some modifications to the buildings.  It’s up to the developer to choose which portions of the developments will be constructed first.

There are changes to the proposed applications including lighting intrusions in neighboring yards from garages, which was disputed at one point.  I’ll publish the final ordinances for each of the three developments when they are completed by our City Attorney.  Meanwhile here’s the Mayor’s post: Bellaire Place Planned Developments Approved          

My letter of March 3, 2022 to the Mayor and members of City Council

UPDATE 2/25/2022: After another 5-hour meeting on February 21, 2022, City Council gave the City Attorney a list of queries and suggested changes for the Planned Development applications. 

The discussion seemed to focus on what, where, and why.  Issues included the building heights, site coverage, environmental concerns, noise and traffic, light pollution, and the overall impact on the adjoining neighborhoods.  Why build more office more office and retail buildings when there are vacancy signs for commercial properties throughout the area?  What about flooding?  Find the video and agenda for that meeting here.  The PD applications may be presented again at the next City Council meeting on March 7, 2022.

Find the developer’s plan for reconstructing South Rice Avenue here.  Is this plan feasible for this area?

UPDATE 1/29/2022: The meeting lasted over 5 hours, most of that time was devoted to the hearing on the PDs.  20 speakers made comments, 4 more sent written comments.  Most were opposed to over-development for fear of noise, traffic, flooding, environmental history, and the negative impact on their quality of life and their property values.  Find a link to the meeting here.

After the developer responds to City Staff’s several pages of recommendations to clarify the actual plans these applications may be resubmitted to City Council in February.  Find that Staff document here.    

Why such a long list?  Perhaps because the presentation by the developer, Danny Sheena, was somewhat nebulous.  He exhibited multiple buildings but there was confusion on Council about the actual dimensions of the building footprints.       

There were no scaled plans easily accessible showing the length and width for each building’s perimeter.  No scale on the site plans for most setbacks other than 65′ feet from the residential property line to the north of the development. (P&Z initially approved approved a 35′ rear setback in the new North Bellaire Special Development District.  City Council voted to change the rear setback to 65′ before approving the new zoning district.)

Mr. Sheena explained that he had no tenants lined up for occupancy because none of this has been approved, so there were multiple uses listed for the proposed buildings. 

There’s an outdated traffic study for the applications, an updated study has been suggested.  At the January 24th meeting Mr. Sheena mentioned that TX-DOT requires a 100′ deceleration lane along the feeder for access to the project off Loop 610, but that he may be able to relocate that curb cut further along, just north of the filling station. The current proposal runs the driveway from the feeder under high-raised buildings on the east side of the development.

He also said that the City of Houston will allow him to build another 10′ lane along South Rice from north of Tamarisk to the north end of his property to improve traffic flow.  Also that the City of Houston will replace and upgrade the traffic light at that corner, which is frequently damaged.

Members of Council expressed concern about the capacity of City services, especially our wastewater sewer system and treatment plant.  Also fire and police department calls.  

This may come back to Council in February.

Here’s a link to the 1322 page agenda for the 1/24/2022 Council meeting.

This is the site if the old Texaco/Chevron campus.  Planning and Zoning approved the three Planned Development applications at the November 18, 2021, meeting.  Next step is a public hearing for consideration and approval, scheduled before City Council on January 24, 2022, at 6 PM in the City Hall.   

About 150 Bellaire residences are situated just north of this site. Others on the south side of Fournace.  With 80% allowable lot coverage, and a rear setback of only 65′, residents are concerned about the effect of the proposed 45′, 65′, 70′, 73′, and 85′ building heights.  Others remain concerned about the history of environmental contamination on the site, traffic, property values, flooding, crime, over-development, city infrastructure, and schools.   

A Special Warranty Deed was included in the sale of the site to the present owner.  Due to the revelation of contaminants on and under the site, single family homes, originally included in the Comprehensive Plan for that area, are no longer considered feasible for development on the site. There were 82 TCEQ monitoring wells on the property in 2019.  And that Special Warranty Deed is not addressed in the new North Bellaire Special Development District zoning ordinance. 

The service station at the corner of Fournace and Loop 610 is separately owned and is currently being reconstructed and modernized.  It is not part of this site.

Please share your thoughts about these applications and the development of this site with the Mayor and City Council.  Personally, I’m still hoping for 60% lot coverage and nothing taller than 3 stories.

Send written comments to our City Clerk, Tracy Dutton, at  tdutton@bellairetx.gov.  Tracy will forward them to the Mayor and members of City Council.

Find page 1 below, find the entire Public Hearing application here.

Some history from 2021 on the Planning and Zoning decisions and the adoption of the new NBSDD ordinance City Council.

A Letter From SQ Environmental 11-18-2018

My Letter to 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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