Zoners OK Plan To Sell Equestrian Club Rec Site

Wellington’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board unanimously recommended approval of a master plan amendment Wednesday that would allow a home on what is currently a polo field along Lake Worth Road.

The item was heard at a special meeting Wednesday night, postponed from the board’s April 4 meeting to allow the Wellington Equestrian Preserve Committee to hear the issue.

Planning & Zoning Manager David Flinchum told the board that the master plan amendment would change a 5.1-acre parcel in what’s considered the Equestrian Club development from a community equestrian workout area to a single-family dwelling unit with equestrian uses.

“The community was set up so the people on the east side, the smaller lots, had their own recreation facilities,” he said, “and the west side was by far the more equestrian uses.”

The property, owned by Grand Prix Farms, is located just west of the Equestrian Club community and is currently a polo field.

Flinchum said that it would also increase the number of units allowed by one — from 148 to 149 units in the Equestrian Club.

Flinchum said that the three internal homeowners’ associations are in support of the change. The Equestrian Preserve Committee also recommended approval.

PZA Board Member Tim Shields said he was worried that allowing the development, which is currently built out, to put in more homes on previous community space would set a bad precedent.

“My only hesitation here is that we have a development that was plotted out and this was sold as green space,” he said. “Now that it’s built out, they are taking community space and selling it off. It concerns me that we may be setting a bad example that once a development is sold out, you can come back in and we’ll cash in your community recreational space for you to build more homes on.”

Flinchum said that normally, village staff would have the same concern; however, the HOAs have all agreed that they would like to see the parcel changed.

“When they came in before,” he said, “I told them that you have to have the documentation to show that this is an internal matter that has been agreed upon.”

Flinchum said that there is a buyer for the property who plans to put a house on the land with equestrian uses. Yet Shields said he was “concerned about what this says to other developers who own large recreational tracts.”

Flinchum said that the space would have to be surplus, and would have to be internally supported. Village Attorney Jeff Kurtz told the board that the community was developed prior to the cluster concept in the Wellington Equestrian Preserve regulations.

“In terms of the future,” he said, “if something like this were proposed again, there would be greater control. This would not be a precedent for something else in the future.”

PZA Board Chair Carmine Priore III noted that the board must evaluate the plan in front of them. “Things do change, and that’s why we have this process,” he said.

PZA Board Member Elizabeth Mariaca made a motion to approve the master plan amendment. The measure passed unanimously.