The rift between the Wellington Village Council and some parts of the equestrian community continues to widen, and now talk of “deannexation” has entered the conversation. While we understand the frustrations on both sides of the current “equestrian civil war,” removing parts of Wellington’s equestrian area from the community is the wrong course of action.
The “deannexation” idea was discussed at a recent informational meeting hosted by the Equestrian Forum of Wellington, and though it’s not likely this could happen anytime soon — or at all — it’s a sign that the battle has entered a new phase.
Proponents of the idea want to secede, or deannex, parts of the equestrian area from the village and place them under county control — not exactly a step forward in regard to autonomy. Thankfully, the informational meeting brought up many questions about the realities of such a plan, and the points brought up by village staff and council members helped add perspective to the issue. For instance, they would lose the services currently paid for by Wellington, such as enhanced law enforcement. And they would still be under the jurisdiction of the Acme Improvement District, an agency run by the village, and therefore still subject to all of Acme’s storm water drainage rules and regulations.
In addition to services, Wellington has special rules protecting the equestrian area, and leaving the village would mean giving up many of those protections. While the lack of progress on solving the often-bitter disputes is disconcerting, it’s doubtful county government would be better. As we’ve seen time and again through the years, the county does not usually give people what they want. With deannexation, all proponents will be doing is changing one government for another. And in this case, replacing a local government comprising Wellington residents with a board made up of outsiders whose interests lie elsewhere.
There are key disagreements in the direction of Wellington right now, where the equestrian community is polarized between two different philosophies, and we understand that. But breaking up the village by taking large portions of the equestrian area out of the municipality is not a solution. Eventually, all the disagreements that are going on will have either a negotiated solution or a court-mandated solution. The crucial point is that when Wellington gets through this troubling time, the municipality has to remain intact.
It’s important that whatever decisions are made, that they’re based on deliberative, rational calculation, rather than as a reaction to current frustrations. This burn-the-bridges mentality is deeply problematic, and it doesn’t matter from which side it comes. You can’t pull apart the village. The equestrian area is strong because of Wellington, and Wellington is strong because of the equestrian community and the equestrian land. Pull them apart, and neither side is as strong as it was.