By Charlotte Aguilar
The Bellaire City Council will hold a “telephonic” public meeting at 6 p.m. Monday (March 23) to extend indefinitely an emergency declaration signed by the mayor on Friday and to consider moving the city charter election on sidewalks from May to November.
In addition, Bellaire took new steps Friday to protect the public and city workers from the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, including closing all city buildings to the public as of Monday, canceling all city-sponsored events indefinitely, and conducting public city meetings by teleconference or canceling them.
Anyone interested in taking part in Monday’s council meeting can phone a special number and enter a code to be connected. Those wishing to speak must sign up in advance and observe guidelines. Information on how to participate and the agenda are available here.
All this is being done to comply with a state emergency disaster order limiting public gatherings to 10 people or less to help slow the spread of the virus. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the declaration which allows for adjustments to the Open Meetings Act and sets out a series of restrictions to deal with the pandemic and limit its impact on Texas. Additionally, Abbott suspended provisions of the Texas Election Code which will allow entities to postpone elections until the next uniform date in November.
Mayor Andrew Friedberg wrote about the meeting in his latest blogpost, saying the disaster declaration is about “preparedness, not panic.”
“Local disaster declarations are the key to unlocking several beneficial provisions of state law we may need to utilize as the situation progresses,” the mayor wrote, “concerning procurement of necessary resources, eligibility for state and federal aid, and other emergency management and law enforcement tools.”
All city services will continue to be offered in Bellaire — police, fire, EMS, public works including solid waste and water management — but physical access to city facilities is limited and officials are encouraging residents to conduct their business online or by phone.
Here is the city’s list of services, contacts, and restrictions. Daily updates are available at bellairetx.gov.
Bellaire encourages water customers to pay online at bellairetx.gov/603/Utility-Billing. Water bills may also be dropped off at City Hall in the overnight deposit or be mailed to the City of Bellaire, 7008 S. Rice Ave. Bellaire 77401.
The Development Services Department customer service area in City Hall will be closed to the public, but staff will be available to answer questions and permits can be submitted by mail or e-mail. Instructions are available at bellairetx.gov/1664/Permit-Submittal-Procedure. Inspections and inspection requests will not be affected by the shutdown of the office, the city says.
POLICE & COURTS BUILDING
The Bellaire Police Department lobby will be closed to walk-in traffic starting Monday. A list of contact numbers will be posted on the lobby doors to assist visitors with their needs.
Bellaire Municipal Court has been canceled until further notice. Those needing to reset a court date can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 713-662-8105.
BELLAIRE CITY LIBRARY
The library building is closed to the public but staff is offering curbside pickup for holds on material placed by the library user with a valid Bellaire City Library or Harris County Library card. Details here.
PARKS, RECREATION AND FACILITIES
The Bellaire Recreation Center and all Bellaire pools are closed, and all recreation activities are suspended until further notice. Bellaire Life activities are suspended until further notice. Parks and tennis courts are open. Courts can be reserved here.
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