Elevating your home won’t necessarily
lift your peace of mind
Aaron Lewis, Owner
Page 9 | THE ESSENTIALS
it for other uses with such phrases as “The site provides
maximum exposure for retail or medical office building with
simple ingress and egress” and “Adjacent new development
at Bellaire Blvd. and South Rice Ave. will stimulate continued
development in the area, and particularly on the subject site.”
Those are the big examples. The city manager and old City
Council had been increasingly pushing for commercial
“redevelopment” as a cash cow that can transform us into
Highland Village. First victim: The small businesses around
H-E-B, being squeezed out thanks to the city manager’s bond-funded
$2.5-$3 million beautification project, with council
along for the ride.
Their justification? It’s in the Comprehensive Plan. That area
was rezoned to UV-D in 2014 to allow just about anything
to be built there. Is another developer waiting in the wings?
What’s next? Apartments and condos? If recent events are an
indication, the best place to look for what’s being planned is in
the real estate listings, not on public agendas.
The recent election results should have sent a message to City
Hall that residents support a return to a residential focus —
the traditional City of Homes. They voted for candidates who
emphasized flood mitigation over paving more of the city.
A good place to start with reversing recent trends would be
to reduce the allowable lot coverage and building height for
commercial construction and insist on low-rise buildings and
more green space and detention.
Instead of endangering more Bellaire neighborhoods with
commercial intrusion we should promote our City of Homes
– our great location, schools, services and quiet residential
neighborhoods. We should nurture our small businesses that
support local needs — restaurants, grocery stores, hair salons,
drug stores, automotive services, dry cleaners, health and
Instead we are in danger of losing our small town atmosphere
and the camaraderie it fosters. We used to have an Inspection
Department (not Development Services) that focused on proper
procedures. They weren’t hired to promote development or
rezoning or to coach developers on how to work and rework
their proposals. Their job was to assure residents that anything
approved by those responsible was done correctly — that our
town and its residents were protected and safe in their major
investment, their homes.
Zoning, oversight — and transparency — can provide the best
assurance that Bellaire is still a good investment as a city
of fine homes, discerning about commercial development,
disenchanted with high rises and apartments. If zoning
changes are considered they should be more protective of our
residential areas and our reputation, not less.
McNeel has lived in Bellaire since 1956 and runs the
BellaireCivicClub.com website, a repository of current
issues, information and events. She may be contacted at
I understand the interest in “lifting” homes, especially for
people who are suffering PTSD from Hurricane Harvey
and the other storms in recent years that have not just
destroyed and damaged our communities but our peace of
You drive past homes in Meyerland and other Brays Bayou-adjacent
communities being cut off their foundations and
completely elevated and wonder if that’s something you
My advice is to go very slowly or wait — and here’s why.
First, the costs are staggering — both monetarily and
emotionally. You’d want to use a Unified Lifting System.
The process is complicated — involving a team of tunnelers
digging and maneuvering under your home — and it’s filled
with its own stress and trauma that can be just as intense as
what individuals and couples experienced from flooding.
Second, homes in Bellaire and West University are built
to much more exacting standards than those in other
communities, making them more complicated and costly to
lift. In Bellaire, there’s been an extra requirement for bell-bottom
piers, which adds even more difficulty and expense
to the lifting process.
Third, if you’re using FEMA funds for the lift, you’re
extremely limited in all your rebuilding choices, and they
might not meet Bellaire’s and West U’s strict guidelines or
your exacting tastes. And, from what I know, “upgrades”
aren’t part of the federal vocabulary.
My suggestion is to look at your elevation certificate and
factor in how much water was in your home and if it ever
happened before or if it has happened since. If there’s
repeated and damaging flooding, then lifting with a
reputable, experienced company could be worth exploring.
But remember that Harvey was a freak of nature, and local
governments are working hard to find a regional solution
to flooding problems. While in the end
lifting your home might provide you
some peace of mind, the costs are
high — and lifting still doesn’t impact
the massive infrastructure problems
that need to be addressed and solved
before flooding is relieved.
Luria Construction, LLC | www.luriaconstruction.com | 713.828.2155