Several Wellington businesses will get a reprieve from strict enforcement of hours of operation while village officials reconsider the rules.
Last week, about 13 Wellington businesses located within 300 feet of homes received letters from the village alerting them that they were out of compliance with Wellington’s prescribed 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. hours of operation.
But at the behest of members of the Wellington Village Council, enforcement is suspended until council members can discuss the issue, Long Range Planning Director Tim Stillings told the Town-Crier Wednesday.
“We sent one letter as a courtesy to let them know that they were operating outside of the hours of operation,” he said. “Subsequently, we have sent another letter out … reminding businesses that it was only a courtesy letter and that violations will not be issued. Wellington has suspended enforcement.”
Included with the letter was an application to ask the council for extended hours of operation.
Last week, Wellington Chamber of Commerce President Alec Domb said that the application could cost a business as much as $3,000 plus fees paid to legal or planning advisers.
But Stillings said businesses need not worry about applying for the hours until council members have a chance to address the matter.
“We said we’d inform them when that occurs,” he said, adding that there should be a workshop soon.
Wellington Mayor Bob Margolis said it was not the council’s intent to press for stricter code enforcement but, rather, to address the policy. “There are always unintended consequences,” he said. “We told staff to put everything on hold until we can make some policy decisions.”
Earlier this month, the issue of enforcing hours of operation for some businesses and not others came to a head when council members chose to apply additional conditions to the Grille Fashion Cuisine, which had been seeking, among other things, extended hours.
Representatives for the Grille argued that other businesses — namely, the Players Club — are open substantially later and given a competitive advantage.
Many of the businesses have been operating under their current hours — which are outside of the 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. timeframe — since before Wellington was incorporated.
Stillings said those hours were part of county code at the time. “It was not something that was historically enforced by the county. When it became Wellington’s code, it was not strictly enforced,” he said.
Councilman John Greene told the Town-Crier Wednesday that he thought village staff would be gathering information about which businesses were out of compliance. “I believe we have to look at the ordinance,” he said.
Domb said that he was satisfied with Wellington’s response to the matter. “Our concern was that there was an enforcement issue,” he told the Town-Crier Wednesday. “Now that they have issued suspension of enforcement and are going to work on the ordinance, that’s what we wanted. We couldn’t ask for more.”