Letter: One Wellington Means One Set Of Rules

I couldn’t help but see the hypocrisy in Mark Bellissimo saying Wellington is wasting money on litigation (‘One Wellington’ Program Aims To Bring The Community Together, Oct. 5) while at the same time the village remains entangled in lawsuits stemming from his actions.

If not for Mr. Bellissimo’s egregious disregard for permitting rules, the village wouldn’t be spending “hundreds of thousands of dollars” (his words) on litigation related to his Equestrian Village project.

Mr. Bellissimo “failed to comply” with the village comp plan as well as application and permitting rules or “failed to request” certain permits on at least five occasions since 2011. Instead, he went ahead with developing the site as he pleased, regulations be damned.

But when the council voted in May to revoke approval of his commercial equestrian arena because of his continued refusals to meet village requirements, what did he do? Filed suit against it.

It’s ironic that Mr. Bellissimo wants us all to live as “one” in Wellington (hence, the name “One Wellington” he gave his charitable group), yet he does so much to divide it. In the “one Wellington” most of us live in, we live and play by the same rules, so we all can expect equal treatment under the law and by our government. Not so in Mr. Bellissimo’s Wellington, where the rules don’t apply to him. And when people get to pick and choose what rules they’ll follow, if any at all in his case, then we have a community that’s divided.

Michael Whitlow


  1. 1. Voted for all 3 new council members
    2. Supported the proposed amendment regarding supermajority for any changes in the equestrian preserve; but now am having second thoughts about that.

    I believe that property owners should be allowed to develop their properties. If they ask for things over and beyond what is permitted, that makes me concerned. Too much commercial, hotel height, traffic and safety were and are still concerns.

    Mr Bellissimo and his partners have done a wonderful job of bringing elite equestrian events to Wellington. He has introduced non equestrians to these events. Children are now aware of equine sports. This is good for all.

    Mr Jacobs, who has a vast 200 acre estate, has built near veterinary stables, where there is traffic, manure and noise. If he was so concerned about Mr Bellissimo’s plan, Mr Jacobs should have bought up the commercial property that is in question, himself.

    The lawsuits by all wealthy people are bleeding Wellington taxpayers dry.
    It will be the next two elections, 2014 and 2016, that will make the difference. Line and prepare those candidates, now!

    We all are growing tired of these people who continue to spar with each at the cost to the people of Wellington.

    Do you all not know the word, ‘compromise’?

    The property at South Shore and Pierson should be developed to enhance equestrian events. The development should not come at a cost to safety.

    and Mr. Bellissimo grow a huge hedge between your property and those homeowners across the waterway, canal. That would eliminate their complaints about what they see.

    Fairness in equestrian issues is not the only problem in Wellington. Some businesses get rules bent for them, and other businesses do not. We have seen that recently with the restaurant/bar issue in Wellington. Some restaurants/bars businesses were able to operate outside ascribed zoning hours and others were forbidden to do so. That is not fair.
    There is inconsistency in enforcement. That is discrimination.

    Also, have growing concerns about the council, their nitpicking, their hostility to each other and decisions that are being made.

    When decisions have to be brought back because of faulty reasoning, there is need for concern.

    The council needs to examine their behavior and governing ability.

  2. In Wellington rules are not in stone and can be changed in a heart beat to suite the person that can pay.Sad, but true.Welcome to pay to play game.The IG should find a new job.

  3. Push the rules?! He ran over them like a steamroller on new asphalt.

    Here’s what city atty Jeff Kurtz wrote on Aug. 9, 2012 (and you can look it up; it’s a pubic document):

    “While there is an attempt by Mr. Rosenbaum’s clients [BELLISSIMO’S GROUP] to blame the current crisis on the Council’s decision to revoke prior approvals for the Master Plan and Commercial Equestrian Arena, the reality is that the need for extraordinary action is due to the Bellissimo organizations inaction and failure to move forward and protect the approvals they received relative to the Equestrian Village site. This is stated with confidence and certainty, despite the Council’s own internal divisions as to whether the previous approvals should have been revoked following the 5.9 hearings. The reality is the Master Plan and Commercial Equestrian Arena approvals granted by the Council in the beginning of February had time certain conditions.”

    There is no justification for violating rules that any good citizen would follow. There is no benefit to the community, either, only to the rule breaker.

    • Mr. Kurtz, the Village attorney, is far from unbiased in these matters, as he has demonstrated again and again in Council meetings. Quoting him does not lend credibility to the statement.

      • Mr. Kurtz didn’t violate the permits or deadlines; he only chronicled them as matter of public record. I guess the SF Water Management District and all the folks who have sued Bellissimo over land sales are biased, too.

        Mr. Bellissimo must be serving some mighty tasty Kool-Aid for so many people to be willing to drink it up and parrot the company line!

  4. It is amusing to read Whitlow’s letter and the supportive comments from Margolis, Willhite and Greene. Everything these people do is planned and phony.

  5. Mr. Whitlow’s letter is full of exaggerations, misrepresentations and fabrications.

    This council is seeking to kill everything Bellissimo and his partners have done and what the want to do.

    A missed deadline for filing a plat because of circumstances beyond one’s control is not “continued refusals to meet village requirements.”

    Mr. Whitlow should be disqualified from serving on the Equestrian Preserve Committee.

  6. Follow the rules Mark! Your free ride is over. You are a bully whose con has been exposed, and that goes for your labrador retrievers down at the Chamber of Commerce too. Wellington will no longer tolerate you petulant tyrants and no amount of whining on your part will change that. This is our community, not your kingdom. Its a new day, move on

  7. There’s so much wrong with Michael’s letter that I wonder how clouded his vision has become. Bellissimo did push the rules, and yet overwhelmingly his actions benefited both the equestrian community and the overall Wellington community. The Welling Equestrian Preservation Alliance WEPA, of which Michael is one of its two Board members, claimed they were for dressage but against the hotel. So Bellissimo dropped the hotel – but the WEPA continues to push it’s suit to tear down the Equestrian Village. Bellissimo has raised over $3 million in two years for local charities. WEPA donated $1350. Bellissimo has worked to grow and improve Wellington. WEPA has tried to stop every move. Bellissimo reached out to say stop the fighting, lets try to work together. Whitlow’s answer is no way. We’d rather keep fighting. Just who does the WEPA really represent?

    • Victor, your nose is so far up Bellissimo’s b___. Sorry your house is in foreclosure and you think k____ a____ will help you make more money. You don’t even live in Wellington, yet you constantly run your big mouth telling everyone in Wellington how things should be done.

  8. Notice that Belissimio sued when the council voted in May to REVOKE approval of his project. The project that had already been approved. After Belissimo had already sunk money into the development with council approval, the Village called a do-over and took it back. Do you know the full story, or are you just hearing a few particularly vocal opponents of anything Belissimo does? Perhaps they are the same people who filled your mailboes with lies about 11-story hotels and “malls” going into the equestrian village.

  9. I am so tired of Bellissimo trying to get around the rules. How many hours has our town council had to spend trying to get him to comply with the rules? Watch the commission meetings and you’ll see over and over again how he tries to bend, then break every rule. Enough already. And then, when he gets caught red-handed, he blames other people.

  10. Exactly. When we moved to Wellington, everybody had to follow the rules. That’s what kept the community looking nice.

    If he wants to build in Wellington, he should have to follow the rules.

  11. It’s about time someone told it like it is! Bellissimo is a tyrant, not to mention one shoddy developer. Since he started building the Equestrian Village he has raised the ire of the S. Fla. Water Management District and the Village for repeated permit and deadline violations. Only last week the Village cited him with a violation for stabling horses on the EV site before he was allowed to. That’s the first strike of the three-strike rule the Village imposed on him when it gave him approval to operate the dressage festival. I have every bit of confidence in him to strike out and cry foul, as playing the victim is his pattern of behavior.

    Go to the county clerk of the court website and search his name and you will find that Mr. Bellissimo is the “victim” of quite a few lawsuits, many involving his business dealings with private citizens.

    Dear residents of Wellington, where’s there’s smoke, there’s Bellissimo with a match and a can of gasoline.

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