The council came to the consensus during its July 20 meeting after Council Member Catherine Lewis raised the concerns in a presentation she made, citing data from a shadow calculator tool, as well as a study titled “Scientific Analysis of Shadow from Parking Garage at 4800 Fournace Place,” with a preliminary review of the study from a Houston-based architectural firm.
The study concluded the planned parking garage will cast a shadow on properties located along Mayfair Street, adjacent to the former Chevron property. As the design stands, the garage would have a negative impact on the use of the properties and possibly cause a serious reduction in value, wrote Randhir Sahni, a principal with the architectural firm, Llewelyn-Davies Sahni II LLC.
“I believe these adverse effects could be avoided by modifications to the design of the ‘mass and configuration’ of the garage,” Sahni wrote in a letter he submitted to the council.
To enforce a design change, Lewis recommended the council send a proposal to the Bellaire Planning and Zoning Commission to consider adding amendments to the specific use permit granted to the developer, SLS Houston Properties, on Nov. 5, 2018. The developer intends to build a mixed-use property on the 12.5-acre site.
However, the city’s legal counsel said making amendments to the permit could open Bellaire up to legal action by the developer.
“The fact of the matter is the building permit here was issued in accordance with the SUP [specific use permit] and regulations that existed at the time the building permit was applied for and issued,” Bellaire city attorney Alan Petrov said. “To go back and pull a building permit now would open the city up to liability with respect to that.”
Though the council opted not to make a formal vote nor attempt amendments to the specific use permit, all agreed some kind of action needed to be made.
“I think someone should figure out some legal way to help the homeowners of the city of Bellaire,” Council Member Jim Hotze said. “And if we made a mistake, and if we found some new information or think it’s important enough, if we allow this to go forward, we may be seriously diminishing the value of a number of people’s homes.”
The request comes as the Planning and Zoning Commission is in the midst of crafting zoning language to create a new North Bellaire Special Development District at the site, now known as the North Bellaire Special Development Area.