July 19, 2023

Council Says “Not Yes” to Methodist Hospital Development

Monday night’s long-awaited deliberation and vote (or non-vote as it turned out) on the Methodist Hospital planned development application was unusual to say the least.  These are typically straightforward proceedings resulting in an up or down vote, often with conditions attached when a project is approved.  This one didn’t go that way.  As individual Council members stated their positions it was clear the proposal wouldn’t get enough votes to pass, but at the same time some members presented substantial modifications or even alternative designs they would vote for if the details could be worked out with the applicant.

Given those members’ interest in exploring such other possibilities, Council was reluctant to simply vote down the proposal in its entirety.  Both because we hope Methodist will continue to engage with us, and also to avoid potentially running afoul of a rule that would impose a two-year waiting period before any reconsideration.  But neither could we redesign the project on the fly from the dais, much less without input from the applicant or the public.

All of which led to a decidedly procedural, and decidedly unsatisfying outcome:  a motion to postpone the matter indefinitely as a means of avoiding voting against it.  In other words, “not yes” rather than “no.”

July 17, 2023

Council Looking To Discontinue Garbage Bag Distribution

For as long as anyone can remember (historical documentation points to 1971), the City has distributed rolls of garbage bags to every residence a few times a year.  The rationale for this program is to facilitate compliance with a provision of our Solid Waste Code requiring plastic bags be of a certain minimum thickness to prevent leaks.  These are thicker than your typical grocery store bag, and because the City buys them in bulk we can get them cheaper than if residents had to go out and buy them on their own.  The cost is passed on through the solid waste rate on our monthly utility bills.

However, the traditional reasoning behind the program no longer holds up.  Whatever may have been the case decades ago, today’s grocery store bags are stronger than they used to be, even if still thinner.  Many Bellaire households don’t use the City-supplied bags at all, and Public Works doesn’t enforce the thickness requirement, because it simply hasn’t been an issue.

July 12, 2023

Problem Solved:  Not One Dog Pound but Two

Turns out, the answer that’s eluded us for so long has been right under our noses this whole time.  From the start we’d all assumed our existing dog pound, flood prone and past its prime, would no longer be part of the picture.  But as it proved immensely challenging to identify a suitable site elsewhere on which to construct a new facility, staff revisited that earlier assumption and realized the old facility held the key.

July 7, 2023

Survey on Bellaire’s Future

Is Bellaire headed in the right direction, attracting the kind of developments and redevelopments that enhance your everyday quality of life?  Or are there aspects of our zoning regulations we need to revisit and update to better fulfill your vision for the Bellaire of today and tomorrow?

The Comprehensive Plan is our foundational, long-term policy statement of who we are and who we want to be, and is what will guide both public and private investments that will shape the City’s physical redevelopment and community character for decades to come.  As such, it’s critical we review the Plan from time to time, and in doing so cast a wide net to capture as many perspectives as possible.  Our current Comprehensive Plan Review is well underway, and as part of that process residents and other stakeholders are invited to participate in an online Survey on Bellaire’s Future, now through July 28.

This format allows for personal, candid input in ways in-person listening sessions might not, and is accessible to fill out at your convenience.  We recognize the survey is not the be-all and end-all, and it isn’t intended to be.  But it is a useful tool to secure feedback from those we might not otherwise reach, and is timed so as to inform a deeper, ongoing public discussion of the key issues that emerge as the Review progresses.

Also, some additional engagement opportunities have been announced for next week:

  • Wednesday, July 12:  Residential Engagement Opportunity at Bellaire High School, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (parking available at S. Rice and Maple)

  • Thursday, July 13 (rescheduled from June 15 due to extreme heat advisory):  Walk-up Tables inside the Bellaire City Library, 2:00-4:00 p.m., and outside at Evelyn’s Park, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

And, of course, there will be more such events to come.  Keep an eye on the Comprehensive Plan Review page on the City website for future announcements.

We thank you for your participation in this important project, which will help ensure the final product is truly representative of all viewpoints in defining Bellaire’s future.