In Wellington’s last election, a developer/developers spent over a million dollars to change our mayor and to seat two village councilpersons, and they succeeded. But the story only begins there.
Taking baby steps, the first move of the developer, was to pick their own equestrian committee and planning/zoning committee members (through their new council), to insure that their proposals will receive a more welcome response. Perhaps just a rubber stamp?
After years of complaining and whining (and untold building violations, village safety signage removals, etc), using the Wellington Chamber of Commerce as their dais, they attacked our village and even threatened Wellington by stating they would/could move their equestrian events elsewhere, they now seem to have the reins. Thankfully, the Wellington chamber now appears to be more independent and no longer a mouthpiece for Mark Bellissimo and friends. They represent less than 5 percent of Wellington yet are 95 percent of the complaints against the village, for they resented having to apply for permits in a timely fashion as everybody else has to, and continuously neglected our village codes, and they especially like taking the village to court, costing our taxpayers. Not really good neighbors.
Today, we see the results, as elections have consequences.
Palm Beach Polo’s Glenn Straub is starting to feel his oats. His friends now in office, he is slowly moving toward development, changing some of the atmosphere of communities in Palm Beach Polo, creating noise and privacy issues for many Palm Beach Polo residents, and eventually could see developments contiguous with Palm Beach Polo. I knew when Straub bought out the Greenview Cove golf course there eventually would be hell to pay for the communities’ residents. That’s just beginning.
Then, of course, there is Mr. Bellissimo of “I want a hotel” fame, even though a Wellington referendum disallowed it in the Equestrian Preserve Area. His solution is to simply declare areas inside the preserve as not being there, changing the status of areas in the preserve.
In effect, we will all make believe properties inside the preserve are not there, change zoning (through his appointees) and voilà, what the inviolate preserve was created for, will be circumvented by just saying they are not in the preserve on paper, even though geographically it is. Hmm, that’s a conundrum, right? Not where politics and money are wed!
It’s there, but it’s not comedic, but actually very disheartening and morally wrong. Why was the preserve created? What does the word “preserve” mean? What of the village plebiscite, outlawing hotels, etc., in the preserve? Yes, elections have consequences.
Are our elected officials going to be beholden for $1 million-plus spent on their elections by one developer, or are they going to look to the people of Wellington and preserve not only the preserve, but our quality of life and our pristine horse community. Or will they accede to more cementing over fields, build a new hotel (two more are already past planning stages in areas zoned for them) and a strip mall in that Bellissimo juggling act of carving out preserve areas and making believe they are not in the preserve?
Money is a big problem in American politics. It leaves the average voter without representation. Now it has been visited upon us. In fairness, I might add, there was another big donor fighting against Mr. Bellissimo, but he only wanted to maintain the status quo, and wasn’t looking to make a single penny for himself.
George Unger, Wellington