By Charlotte Aguilar
There’s no deal on the table yet, but Bellaire City Council voted unanimously Monday night to call a special election Nov. 7 — in conjunction with the general election for mayor and three City Council seats — for voters to authorize the sale of the city’s former landfill, located in far southwest Houston.
Known as Ruffino Hills, Bellaire owns about 70 acres of the site, which it shared with West University. The property hasn’t been used as a landfill since the early 1980s, but later became a golf course, and then a solid waste transfer station.
After Hurricane Harvey, the city of Houston’s interest in the property intensified for use as stormwater detention to provide relief to hard-hit communities in southwest Houston. Houston bought West U’s half of the property last December for $10.5 million and has indicated an interest in Bellaire’s portion in the past.
Because the property is categorized as parkland, Bellaire voters must approve the sale.
A nonprofit organization, One Voice, studied the site and has proposed a mixed-use development that would combine housing, retail and office with recreation and greenspace, along with floodwater detention/retention. The proposal was created through the University of Houston College and Architecture and Design, and has won major design and environmental recognition.
The only hesitation on Bellaire councilmembers’ part to authorizing the election was that it be made to clear to voters that the acreage in question is in the city of Houston, about 10 miles from Bellaire, and is not parkland within the city of Bellaire.
Mayor Andrew Friedberg emphasized that consolidating the special election for Ruffino Hills with the general election will save taxpayers’ money and expedite the sale if an agreement is reached.
The video of Monday’s council meeting is available here.