Bellaire City Council previously granted a specific use permit to HISD to construct and operate a baseball facility at the former Gordon Elementary School property. However since that time, HISD filed a new application for its specific use permit to be amended to allow for the construction and operation of a separate softball facility in addition to the baseball facility previously approved.
In the Mayor’s latest blog post, he discusses how “City Council unanimously approved the amendment, but only after putting 20 conditions on it.” The conditions were “in response to certain objections expressed in public comment, which predominantly focused on the preservation of mature oak trees on the property, parking and traffic on neighborhood streets, and the perception that the proposal would increase flooding in the area.”
The Mayor details the final plan:
The shape of the outfield has been modified to save several more of the mature oak trees on the Avenue B side of the property, while also allowing for additional on-site parking. To offset the loss of those trees that will need to be removed, HISD will be planting at least 34 new ones. Should any of the trees to be preserved not survive construction, HISD will be required to replace them with trees of the same size and species if possible, and if not then with multiple smaller trees (each a minimum 8”) that collectively equal the same total caliper size.
Fencing around the entire perimeter of the property will further protect the neighbors by deterring on-street parking, an advantage over the 2017 approved plan. Unlike some of the alternative options that were presented, ingress and egress on Bissonnet only has been restored, to reduce traffic impacts on residential streets. Numerous other conditions attached to the permit are directly responsive to community concerns, including a net reduction in storm water runoff and more on-site detention than the status quo.
We recognize this new site plan may not be entirely perfect in all respects and to all people—no more than the 2017 approved plan was—but hopefully once it’s operational it’ll prove generally acceptable to most. Council carefully considered the thoughtful public comment we received, all of which contributed to a better outcome than would have been achieved otherwise. The conditions below are reflective of and effectuate that input, in attempting to strike the right balance between HISD’s use of the property and reasonable protections for the neighborhood:
- (a) No field lights or public address system shall be installed on the property;
- (b) The facilities shall be for the sole and exclusive use of Bellaire High School and not by other entities without prior consent from the City Council of the City of Bellaire, Texas (the “City Council”);
- (c) The site shall be locked when not in use. However, the City of Bellaire Police Department shall have access to the site at all times. The access plan shall be approved by the Bellaire Police Department;
- (d) The facilities shall be used for only the following uses and times listed below, and any other use or time shall require prior approval from the City Council:
- i. Bellaire High School varsity and junior varsity baseball and softball practices – on weekdays until 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays until 5:30 pm;
- ii. Bellaire High School junior varsity baseball and softball games, excluding tournaments – on weekdays until 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays until 5:30 pm; or
- iii. Bellaire High School baseball and softball community events, not to exceed two events for baseball per year and two events for softball per year – until 7:30 p.m. For such events access/parking management plan shall be submitted to the City of Bellaire Development Services Director for review and approval prior to the event and specifically detail overflow parking and access management considerations to minimize impacts to adjacent residential streets and to prevent excess traffic congestion on Bissonnet Street;
- (e) Construction ingress/egress shall be limited to Bissonnet Street, specifically restricting construction access through Avenue B and/or Feld Park, except as required to close the existing driveway to Avenue B and to plant trees along Avenue B;
- (f) There shall be no net fill nor significant impediment to sheet flow on the site;
- (g) The lowest visual impact netting material shall be utilized for all nets on the perimeter of the site. The netting on the third base line of the baseball field shall be extended to protect parked cars;
- (h) HISD shall meet the lot coverage and setback requirements of the Code of Ordinances of the City (applying to schools in residential areas);
- (i) As represented by HISD at the public hearing before City Council on September 21, 2020, the fields must be graded to avoid runoff and may only be compacted consistent with residential greenspace and solely for the purposes of creating a safe playing surface;
- (j) All trees shall be preserved behind residences on the west side of the property, on the south side of the property adjacent to Feld Park, and along Avenue B, excepting one tree in right field, and HISD shall take all reasonable measures necessary for such tree preservation, including but not limited to following the direction of a professional arborist. However, if any of the above referenced trees on HISD property do not survive construction, HISD shall make all reasonable efforts to replace their lost tree(s) with tree(s) of the same size and species, in approximately the same location. In the event that similar caliper trees are not available, are prohibitively expensive, or cannot reasonably be placed in the same location, HISD may replace their lost tree(s) with multiple similar species trees of minimum 8” caliper to collectively equal the caliper dimension of the tree(s) that do not survive;
- (k) No artificial or impermeable turf may be used for the fields. No tarps may be used. No solid (plastic or otherwise) horizontal ground weed barriers may be installed;
- (l) No concrete on site except as may be necessary under the batting cages, bleachers, restrooms and storage, for the parking lot, and for sidewalks and pathways which are necessary to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended;
- (m) As represented by HISD at the public hearing before City Council on September 21, 2020, the result of the drainage study and drainage plan (including the use of on-site detention) must reflect a net benefit in reduction of runoff and on site detention in comparison to the current condition, taking into account all changes;
- (n) Upon the request of City staff (at the direction of Council or on its own accord), HISD must provide an officer to assist with traffic during any games or events;
- (o) The pre-existing sidewalk on Avenue B and Bissonnet must be preserved;
- (p) No video monitors;
- (q) The only on-site lights on the property shall be low impact safety lights directed away from residences;
- (r) Except for on the parking lot driveway, HISD shall construct a fence around the entire property inside of the existing sidewalk;
- (s) Ingress/egress to the property shall be only on Bissonnet Street; and
- (t) On-site parking shall include a minimum of 48 parking spaces.
See the Mayor’s full blog post HERE.