Bellaire City Council’s Aug. 5 meeting had a development-heavy agenda, including a public hearing for a potential new oil change station on Bellaire Boulevard, an update on the possible new development of the old Chevron property and a rezoning request for 4301 Bellaire Blvd.
Former Chevron site
City Manager Paul Hofmann said that residents near the proposed development at 4800 Fournace Place and 5901 S. Rice Ave. had concerns about soil and groundwater contamination that occurred at that site while it was owned by Chevron.
“I think it’s a fair summary that there are questions about the completeness of environmental testing that’s been done,” Hofmann said. “We have promised to collect all of the information that we can. We have been asked to collect all of the environmental assessments that have been done on that site and to make all of that information available to the public.”
Hofmann said that Bellaire’s Planning and Zoning Commission will not make any recommendation to the council at its next meeting until more information regarding environmental contamination is reviewed.
Rezoning request for 4301 Bellaire Blvd.
In a 6-1 vote, the City Council denied a request from A Beautiful Bellaire, LLC, to rezone a residential property at 4301 Bellaire Blvd. to accommodate a proposed office building.
Council members who voted against the rezoning request said that the proposed building itself was not the issue.
“There’s a mismatch between what the applicant is saying he wants—an office building—and what we’re being asked to decide, which is a wholesale rezoning from residential to commercial,” Mayor Andrew Friedberg said. “I cannot support what would essentially be an abdication by the city of its inherent zoning authority, leaving it to the neighbors to enforce those restrictions through private lawsuit.”
Council Member Pat McLaughlan, who voted in favor of the rezoning request, said the request was justified because of the nature of the unconforming lot.
“I just personally think that a nice office building, when I drive into the city limits of Bellaire, is more attractive to me than that falling-down, dirty looking church,” McLaughlan said. “This idea that if we’re going to rezone a piece of land, we’re going to go wild and rezone everything else in the city—no, that’s not credible.”
Take 5 Oil Change
A presentation of a proposed drive-through oil change and emissions testing shop at 5235 Bellaire Blvd. was given at the council meeting, followed by a period of public comment.
Keith Mohammed, the construction manager of the proposed Take 5 Oil Change, said that the shop would feature drive-through oil changing services estimated to take 6 to 8 minutes each and that the proposed development would include additional landscaping to the property, noise levels would be minimal and an adjacent alley is planned to be closed off to help with traffic congestion.
“We’re excited to be here, we’re excited for an approval by the esteemed city council and we’re here to be a part of the community,” Mohammed said.
Many residents who spoke during the public comments period expressed concerns about the development adding to traffic congestion in the area.
Action by the city council concerning the request could be taken at its Aug. 19 meeting.