June 22, 2018

Bellaire Incorporated 100 Years

Ten years ago the City of Bellaire commemorated the centennial of our founding in 1908.  We now mark another important milestone, the 100th anniversary of our incorporation as a city.  On June 24, 1918, the people of Bellaire made their town official, and it was that defining act that makes us what we are still to this day.  Though we didn’t attain full self-government until 1949 when the population reached 5,000 and adopted a home-rule charter, incorporation established Bellaire as its own independent city, free from annexation by Houston as both grew.  (It didn’t stop West U. from trying, but that’s another story.)

Special thanks to our community partners who kicked off the festivities this morning at Evelyn’s Park, complete with birthday cake and refreshments provided by H-E-B Bellaire Market.  Photo courtesy of Dee Zunker Photography

Incorporation was a coming of age for our small town, a significant achievement worthy of recognition this year.  Starting next month we’ll also be celebrating the Bellaire Police Department’s own centennial, as it traces its roots to the appointment of the City’s first law enforcement officer two weeks after the local government was formed.  The opening of our new City Hall later this summer, and Police and Courts building in the fall, also coincide nicely with these 100-year occasions.

This historic weekend, the weather has cleared up just in time for you to enjoy the self-guided Bellaire Centennial History Walk.  Or take a Bellaire history bus tour.  You can also read more about our early years in the Handbook of Texas online, and check out the Bellaire Historical Society when its programming resumes in September.  Happy Birthday, Bellaire!

June 19, 2018

“Kolter North” Permit Amendment Approved

When Hurricane Harvey struck only days before school was supposed to start last year, it left the Houston Independent School District scrambling to find temporary arrangements for several campuses that were too badly damaged to open.  Fortunately, the former Gordon Elementary/Mandarin Chinese school building had not yet been torn down to make way for the new Bellaire High School baseball and softball facility previously approved.  It provided a convenient option for the temporary relocation of Kolter Elementary from nearby Meyerland, and has since come to be known affectionately within that proud and grateful community as “Kolter North.”

Helping our neighbors, school children no less, was without question the right thing to do.  The City of Bellaire fast-tracked a certificate of occupancy for the building, insisting only on health and safety inspections and administratively deferring on a temporary basis the requirement for a formal zoning application, since HISD intended for Kolter to stay only one semester while its own campus was repaired.  However, when the school board decided instead to replace the old Kolter with a new building, and to continue operating Kolter North in the interim, the temporary administrative zoning approval would no longer suffice.

June 4, 2018

The Planning and Zoning Two-Step

I’ve written previously about the importance of public hearings in the planning and zoning process, including some of the reasons we have two, first at the Planning and Zoning Commission and then at City Council.  As Mayor, I feel compelled once again to raise this subject, to call your attention to a worrisome trend that has surfaced in recent years.  Increasingly, it seems many residents are bypassing P&Z’s public hearings and bringing their comments straight to Council, presumably thinking it’s the second hearing that really counts.  While it’s true that only Council decides the final outcomes, quite often it’s the public input at the P&Z stage that makes the biggest difference, as proposals are further refined in response to that input before even getting to Council.