Update on NBSDD Public Hearing on January 14, 2021

UPDATE May 25, 2021: The new NBSDD zoning ordinance was approved by City Council on a 4 to 3 vote on May 24, 2021. Watch the 5 hour meeting here.

Update: 2/12/2021: In a long and somewhat confusing meeting on February 11th the Planning and Zoning Commission essentially approved the proposed draft for the NBSDD with a few minor changes.  They will recommend consideration and approval of the new zoning district from members of Bellaire City Council, possibly as soon as the March 15, 2021, meeting. Listen to the meeting here.

P&Z Agenda for February 11, 2021 – Telephonic – 6 PM – North Bellaire Special Development District on old Chevron property

A Public Hearing was held by the Planning and Zoning Commission on January 14, 2021.   The subject of the Hearing was proposed changes to the current Technical Research Park zoning on the SLS Properties site at 4800 Fournace (the old Chevron site).  A new zoning district is proposed, the North Bellaire Special Development, the NBSDD. 

The list of possible developments pretty much opens the door to anything.  In what has to be one of the most curious explanations of zoning,  Chairman Gordon explained that the new proposal was designed to prevent over-development of this property.  That anyone wishing to develop a portion of the land would have to come to P&Z for approval.  A sort of ‘throw it against the wall and see what sticks’ method of zoning.

He stated that environmental, drainage, and traffic issues were not part of zoning, and are addressed by other City departments, or ordinances, or boards or commissions, or something. Precisely who, what, or how was not clear or defined.  Gary Mitchell, the Kendig Keast representative, said some of these things could be addressed under item C, the Site plan.

And the inference was that even if everything a developer could want was in the ordinance, which if passed by City Council would become law, no one would ever consider approving all or even most of those possibilities.

That if the ordinance is approved in 2021, years later P&Z commissioners and City Council members would know or recall that many of the permitted and special uses in that document were not really intended for approval.  Sure, they might be unaware that the land had been under the eye of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or that there’s a Special Warranty deed attached to the property regarding environmental contamination, but that’s not important for zoning purposes.

No one with the City seemed to know the current TRPD setback requirement, or the Chevron Special Warranty Deed restrictions.  They were uncertain of the definitions for assisted living or nursing home.  To be clear, nursing homes are not allowed under the Special Warranty Deed, and assisted living would seem to be a variant of nursing home.

Danny Sheena, the property owner, called in to the meeting to comment.  He felt the draft was well written but highly restrictive.  That each building would have to be approved.  That’s true, and according to this draft a building might be approved with a height of 85-95 feet, built just 15 feet from the residential property line.

Rather than presenting something that proposes to allow anything and everything, why not produce a well written document that actually states what is allowed, period?

It’s up to the residents of Bellaire to decide if this is how we want our Zoning Ordinances to be enacted.

Find a recent and more in-depth article here: North Bellaire Special Development District – The Great Wide Open!   The development of this property affects not only the the surrounding residential areas, it will also portend other commercial developments in Bellaire.  Will we remain a City of Homes?

You can email the Planning and Zoning Commission at zoning@bellairetx.gov

Email the Mayor and City Council via our City Clerk, Tracy Dutton, at tdutton@bellairetx.gov and request that your email be forwarded.

For Comparison: 34 pg West University Place Comprehensive Plan

Find a post from February, 2020, on this issue here: Bellaire’s Trend For Commercial Development – Residents Had Better Pay Attention

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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