There has been much discussion about a possible bed & breakfast in the Equestrian Preserve Area in Wellington.
After reading about the application, and having had discussions with the applicant, as a member of the previous Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board, I have more questions than answers.
There is little of it that sounds like a B&B, with “up to 30 day rentals” being the village time-frame, and the applicant responding to a question that indeed she would consider “seasonal rentals” if she didn’t have sufficient business. According to my research, day to day and weekend stays are the norm everywhere else. This feels like and sounds more like a mini-hotel or a rooming house.
Most B&Bs are located in places where there are tourist destinations like an ocean/beach (St. Augustine or Key West), an eclectic street antique or arts colony community, where there are lots of attractions and places to sight see. What exactly does Wellington have to offer, before or after equestrian season? The other B&Bs are in cities and steps away from bustling hordes of tourists visiting old buildings. “If you build it, they will come” seems to be the approach here.
Now let’s address some requirements of a B&B.
First of all, it would need numerous expensive water and septic systems, or village installed pipes to bring water and sewage at great expense as none exists at present, followed by renovations/construction of individual units, etc. Certainly we are speaking of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Suppose the B&B is not fully utilized and they are running in the red, not unlike many businesses that count on seasonal clients. What will their equestrian neighbors be visited with instead?
Not unlike our quad rental housing, will they evolve into Section 8 housing? Worse, with the 5 to 8 bedrooms already in place and permitted, what of sober housing or rehabilitation centers right in the middle of our horse community? Certainly an ideal money maker for a failed B&B, a good fit for the owners, but not Wellington. Note that federal guidelines dictate their placement, and we would have no input.
We first heard that only individuals/families can run a B&B with their residency required, “No corporations allowed,” but that all changed only recently, even though I brought that up months ago, what with the recent Supreme Court decision declaring corporations people, do we know where we stand on this or are we just taking something for granted? Also, I brought up obvious liability issues that would force B&B owners to incorporate to protect personal assets, but that too was ignored months ago.
Hmmm, the village will enforce its new codes? Considering their reactive bent instead of proactive history, I would not put any trust in their ongoing code enforcement, and the mayor’s statement: “I recognize that it’s probably not going to happen except under unique circumstances.” It reminds me of Mayor Gerwig, leading the fight and then stopping the village from doing its stated business/responsibility of keeping our canals clear.
Whether it be our canal safety or a B&B which doesn’t sound like a B&B, government is supposed to think ahead, not fly by the seat of its pants with “unique circumstances.” Nah, ain’t gonna happen, so full steam ahead! We are creating a hybrid rooming house surrounded by a plethora of on again, off again corporate involvement and maximum rental times. This sounds more like creating a problem then trying to ameliorate it!
We are creating a problem that cannot be code enforced. Can we really tell if it is owner-occupied, can we know if the “village inspired” 30-day fiasco is not abrogated by signing out one day and coming back the next or switching apartments monthly? Will the village check license plates and the register continually in light of the prospective owners’ statement concerning possible seasonal rentals?
Is this really a B&B or a village hybrid rooming facility that could well affect and injure the horse community in the long run? Calling this a B&B is well, deceptive perhaps, because it doesn’t sound like any B&B that I have stayed in or seen!
George Unger, Wellington