Mulberry Lane in Bellaire is a pretty street lined by established homes and stately estates, and a new church building that is once again causing controversy.
Several years ago, homeowners on the street fought hard – and unsuccessfully – to keep St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church from building a new and larger sanctuary at 424 Mulberry Lane. The church was allowed to put its unusual new building, with bell towers, a spire and cross, near its older and smaller church facility.
However, residents of the street recently complained to the City of Bellaire about an ugly structure that is located near the front of the church property, between the street and the sidewalk.
Members of the Bellaire City Council – at the behest of Councilman Pat McLaughlan – recently voted to ask the church to work with its neighbors to see whether there are any alternatives to an electrical drop-down panel that connects the church to its electric transformer.
McLaughlan said Monday that he believes the city made “a colossal mistake” in allowing the utility connection to be installed so close to the street.
McLaughlan asked city staff for advice on whether the City of Bellaire could take any action to remedy the “somewhat unsightly device” located on Mulberry Lane.
Counci members Jim Avioli Sr. and Phil Nauert agreed.
“” I can appreciate the neighbors’ concerns. I would not want to look at it, either,” Avioli said.
But, Avioli noted that any requirement for the church to move the electrical system apparatus “is going to cost somebody some money.”
Nauert said the electrical connection “is not attractive,” but echoed Avioli’s concerns about costs.
“I would not want to be in the position of asking someone to have to spend a lot of money on this,” Nauert said.
Bellaire Mayor Cindy Siegel said that she did not agree with McLaughlan’s assertion that “somebody screwed up” by allowing the drop-down panel and transformer to be installed near the street.
She suggested, however, that the council could pass a resolution – urging the church to work with its neighbors on a solution.
“I don’t think there is any harm in asking the church to be a good neighbor,” Siegel said.
The resolution was supported by Siegel, McLaughlan, Avioli and Nauert.
Council members Will Hickman, Peggy Faulk and John Jeffery voted against the resolution.