To understand the present on the main issue, one needs to understand the past. The previous Wellington Village Council had an open-door policy for developers, and then went as far as them not coming into the front of our village offices and checking in (like I must do) but rather, rear building parking and back doors were facilitated. That’s wrong.
Next, the citizenry has no lobbyist, but as we recently found out, Mark Bellissimo’s lobbyist had continuous access and was recently faulted by our ethics committee for not registering as a lobbyist. The obvious question: Why was this allowed, especially since the affected citizenry’s voices are quashed by this favoritism?
Is this our village manager’s fault? No. He was fulfilling his responsibilities to the majority of the previous council, who never said no to commercialism, larger signage than permitted and overlooked Mr. Bellissimo’s initiating construction without completed paperwork and even worse, tearing down a village sign concerning safety. Mr. Bellissimo admitted this to some degree, saying he was revamping his process.
The Wellington Chamber of Commerce, which put forth the majority of the “business-only” council, having lost the council’s control (by their members losing their election), started from day one to denigrate the new council, and even the village as a whole, making statements to local press and later others outside Wellington, calling this an “anti-business Wellington,” which hurts the entire village.
Now the whipping boy for Bellissimo is Jeremy Jacobs, a gentleman who lives on a property contiguous to Bellissimo’s plans. Mr. Jacobs wants to protect his investment, doesn’t want a huge hotel and commercialization next door to him, so using his deep pockets, he gets involved in Wellington politics. Prior to any of this, he was not an active participant in our elections.
Fortunately, he is on the side of the majority of Wellingtonians because the preserve, and the insight of the vision conference of Wellington citizens, always proclaimed the Equestrian Preserve, just that. Hotels, commercialism and traffic and horses don’t mix, especially in our exquisite equestrian community.
Village Manager Paul Schofield has had to do a balancing act, first under one administration and now another, and with the truly pugnacious attitudes now prevailing, it has become untenable and difficult for him, because he is only a facilitator of the majority of the council, which changed dramatically in one election.
Here in our village, we see a new developer, with lobbyists, having access that John Q. Citizen does not. We witness initiating construction without permits that no average citizen can, and so, in short, favoritism based on money, political influence and in this arena, the mutual aid society of the Wellington Chamber.
The Town-Crier has suggested meetings (council/staff and the developer), and I see this as the only available reasonable option. I don’t think Bellissimo’s numerous lawsuits show any Wellington respect for the citizenry, but I do understand his right to fight for what he wants, even though I vehemently disagree with him.
As of late, the only news we get on this is a constant flow from Wellington Chamber letters, friends of theirs and what appears to be a monthly letter from Mr. Bellissimo in the press. Our elected officials cannot and do not engage in tit-for-tat letters of accusation, but that lack of information has hurt them and the village.
It is my hope that the dressage aspect, which has never been negated by anyone, even though it is constantly mentioned, be allowed and facilitated immediately, and a truly scaled down, commercial aspect be considered and that any hotel be built on the State Road 7 corridor (for aesthetics and traffic considerations) or perhaps at the K-Park site.
George Unger, Wellington