Letter: Jacobs Supports Dressage… With Conditions

Editor’s note: The following letter is an excerpted version of a letter written by Lou Jacobs and sent to Mark Bellissimo regarding dressage at the Equestrian Village property. It was sent to the Town-Crier for publication.

Dear Mark:

I wanted to reach out to you directly with my thoughts about your upcoming request before the [Wellington] Village Council to allow dressage events at the Equestrian Village property. As I have told both you and the village, I am happy to support your most recent proposal to promote dressage events in the Village of Wellington.

As good neighbors, my family and many of the neighbors in the homes near this new facility have long supported the Wellington Equestrian Preserve and the focus on the positives of what the preserve means to the entire community, including trails and green space. We all live in Wellington and enjoy all that this community offers. In the spirit of good neighbors, we simply ask that the dressage events be held in a neighborhood-friendly manner with ample consideration to the surrounding homes and properties, as well as the spirit and intention of the preserve.

With regard to dressage events for the upcoming season, please know that I want to see dressage go forward and be successful. In fact, I have reviewed your current request, and I am prepared to fully support it before the council. As neighbors to the property and in the best interest of the community as a whole, I would recommend a few conditions. I believe these conditions are quite reasonable and are consistent with protecting the equestrian and residential character of the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to your property. They are as follows:

• The use of the property should be limited to the dressage competitions. As you can imagine, I am not in support of concerts, laser- and strobe-light shows, special effects, fireworks, live entertainment or other disruptive, non-equestrian entertainment;

• In the interest of being a good neighbor, we would also request that the dressage competitions end prior to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights;

• The use of amplification devices or loudspeakers, or the amplified projection of announcements or music, is a big issue for the neighboring properties, and we would request that they not be used between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.;

• The early-morning and late-night activities at the barns immediately adjacent to the neighborhoods have been a contentious issue. This was not the case when the barns were located at the corner of Pierson and South Shore. It would be my hope that in the future, permanent and temporary barns would be located at this former location, farthest away from the adjacent neighborhood;

• In the past, there have been substantial issues with compliance with the village noise ordinance. I am confident that going forward your team will strictly comply with the conditions of the village noise ordinance;

• South Shore Blvd., with four lanes of properly designed traffic patterns, is an ideal point of entry and exit for the shows. As you know, South Shore historically has been the primary access point for the venue. We request that primary access to any event should be from South Shore Blvd.;

• The safety of both vehicular and equestrian traffic remains a community concern. There are children and adults riding their horses to and from these events. I think it is in your best interest and that of the community to provide sufficient off-duty police officers at the events. These officers should be placed in appropriate locations to ensure equestrian and pedestrian safety at all crosswalks, as well as to direct traffic in and out of the site.

It is my sincere hope that the village will allow this season to go on as planned. I would like nothing more than for all of us to get back to enjoying Wellington and the upcoming show season. I certainly respect your objectives as a businessman and understand the pressure you are under to ensure the season goes on as planned. I hope that my letter signifies a good faith attempt to put the past behind us and work toward improving the quality of life of the Village of Wellington’s residents.

Lou Jacobs, Deeridge Farms


  1. To answer the questions on applying for a “Special Use Permit” or SUP, and using it to run a season of back to back shows, it is important to understand how a SUP functions.

    A SUP covers an event. Each show is “an event.” While in the past they have been able to apply for consecutive SUPs with confidence it would be granted, there is no longer any confidence that a SUP will be granted or the length of time it will take to issue the permit.

    If WEP operates the season using SUPs, they have to have a strong belief that each request will be granted and granted timely. That is no longer the case. Now the Council reviews each SUP and one can easily see how this could become a problem.

    If just one SUP got delayed for whatever reason, that “event” would not be allowed. With an uncertain Council, this is a very dangerous way to run a season.

    Given that the Council seriously considered revoking WEP’s previously granted Master Plan amendment, the current Council is unpredicatable. For those that think there was no way the Council would revoke a previously granted permit, it took a 14-hour hearing to reach the final conclusion. I was there and up until the last minute, it easily could have come out differently.

    Although the current Council says it supports dressage, during an earlier Council meeing, John Greene was asked specifically by Howard Coates if he thought a dressage arena was consistent within the Equestrian Preservation Overlay Zone and Greene specifily answered “no.”

    So there is a quite reasonable concern that operating the season on consecutive SUPs is just asking for problems. The better way is to issue a Conditional Use Permit, which can cover up to six months in one permit.

    At this point just about everyone and their brother has stated publically that they “support dressage in Wellington,” yet there is still litigation in process and issues unresolved.

    A lot of the “support for dressage” comes with “conditions.”

      • As a professional money manager, if Mark only cared about himself and his pocketbook he WOULD NOT be investing in promoting and building the horse show business at all. Investment wise, it is a very high-risk endeavor with a very slow and historically bad economic return. I have a number of equestrian clients. They are not permitted to say “horse” and “investment” in the same sentence! If you know anything, anything at all about the horse business, it is not an reliable investment market. You buy horses because you love the animal. If, and that’s a real big if, you manage to make money after all your costs are included, it is a rare day.

  2. Can anyone tell me why they have not submitted a written application for the Special Use Permit? An application should have been submitted months ago like they have always done with WEF. How can Council or the VOW issue a permit without an application? Verbal permits don’t exist under the VOW Land use regulations as far as I know. Somehow, I am missing a piece of this puzzle. Anyone?

  3. This is an arrogant manifesto issued on behalf of the Royal Family intended to give a false impression Of support for dressage. The Jacobs know their demands are unfeasible.

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