Texas town’s zoning ordinance puts masonry front and center

Sources: Texas Masonry Council, Houston; CP staff

Following the lead of peers in cities across the Lone Star State, officials in Houston-bordering Bellaire have determined that clay, natural stone, or glass block masonry will be a predominant exterior building material.

The Bellaire City Council passed an ordinance late last year requiring masonry cladding for residential and commercial buildings in a newly designated Urban Village district. It limits the use of concrete masonry, precast, stucco, tile and other materials to no more than 15 percent of the exterior surface area, and states: “The intent of this subsection is to ensure use of building materials in the UV-T district which convey an appearance of quality and durability.”

“Other nearby multi-family properties (not subject to masonry requirements) have deteriorated after 20 years,” said Bellaire Community Development Director John McDonald. “With the design standards, such as the materials requirement, we wanted to ensure that [Urban Village] buildings maintain their value. This, in turn, helps ensure our tax base will remain strong.”

The Urban Village district spans about 18 acres near the Southwest Freeway and Loop 610 intersection, currently occupied by under-utilized warehouses. A redevelopment plan envisions a mix of retail, residential and office buildings to leverage the impact of a new Houston Metro light-rail station.

Bellaire joins 150-plus Texas cities that have incorporated masonry into their community planning and zoning. The trend of masonry-centered ordinances and planning continues, notes Texas Masonry Council Executive V.P. Rudy Garza. “Masonry is part of the Texas heritage,” he says. “By embracing masonry planning, local officials, such as the city staff and council members in Bellaire, are helping to build a strong legacy for their communities.”