Much will be written about the historic election that took place March 13 in Wellington. Especially now as we have found out that Matt Willhite and John Greene were also elected in addition to new Mayor Bob Margolis. Congratulations to all of the candidates.
During this election, much was said about why our family chose to get involved. We love Wellington. It is our home, and we care greatly about protecting it. It is a special place, a place like no other, and we must stand united to ensure that its special character continues to be protected for future generations.
While our family has always supported this community philanthropically and civically, several months ago we were asked to help this community by making sure the voices of all residents were heard. We are proud that we had the financial resources to help tell an important story and are also pleased to have played a role in affecting much-needed change in the recent election.
In addition to the technical error in declaring the wrong winners in two seats, this election was historic for other reasons as well.
First, a record turnout of voters cast their votes for a more open and transparent government. Make no mistake, this was not about one individual. This was an entire community saying that it wants its voice to be heard. Second, the election clearly showed that the majority of voters are not in favor of the proposed massive commercial development in the Equestrian Preserve. As we have said, this is one of the largest developments in Wellington’s history. It deserves an extremely thorough investigation. What does this mean for traffic? How will this impact our water issues? Should commercial development be allowed in a park, golf course or preserve? Do we need a high-rise condo? These are all very important questions and, unfortunately, the due diligence has not been done.
Communities need green space. They need parks and open space. We all know that once massive commercial developments are built, they very rarely get taken down. Three years ago, Wellington developed a comprehensive plan. In that plan there are very specific rules about what is acceptable and what isn’t. The bulk of the plan highlights the importance of open space and the rural, equestrian and agriculture nature of the preserve. The members of the community we have heard from, numbering in the thousands, simply want to maintain what the village put into place. As a community, we need a diligent set of eyes to ensure that changes to master plans, zoning and traffic are carefully analyzed and scrutinized.
The polls clearly showed that this was a decisive issue and one that the majority of the community is against. The election exposed the elitist view of the mayor and chamber of commerce, whose interests are tied directly to the developer, that they are the decision makers, not the residents of this community. We stand for one thing and that is an open process where the community decides what’s best for it.
While the commercial developers of this project, who stand to make millions of dollars in profits at the expense of the community, are pointing their fingers at the voters and saying your vote and opinion do not matter, we think they are wrong. The residents of Wellington spoke out by casting their vote. Their voices need to be heard. As the new elected officials take office, we are optimistic that a fresh set of eyes and ears will prevail. The candidates who have been elected have an obligation to protect and preserve Wellington for all of its residents. They have the obligation to ensure that issues that could affect the entire community are fully vetted, and that the back room deals that were made in the past do not happen again.
Our new officials have a big decision in front of them — perhaps one of the biggest in Wellington’s history in terms of unprecedented commercial development. I am confident that they will all give it the time and attention it deserves. It’s our collective community, and our voices have been heard.
Lou Jacobs, Deeridge Farms, Wellington