Tn a split 3-2 decision Wednesday, Wellington’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board voted to approve amendments to the Wellington CountryPlace Planned Unit Development master plan primarily designed to improve access points and road alignments in and around the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
The amendments pertain to a 250-acre area on the west side of the CountryPlace PUD, which is dominated by the PBIEC.
The amendments request the addition of a road connecting Gene Mische Way to 40th Street South, a road for planned residences to Palm Beach Point Blvd. and a road giving access to the future 40th Street/Lake Worth Road alignment. The changes also transfer 18 dwelling units from one section to another, realign an interior roadway and modify one condition of the 2011 master plan changes.
PZA Board Member Elizabeth Mariaca asked why the Equestrian Preserve Committee voted 6-1 to deny the request on Oct. 8.
“What was not clear to them?” she asked. “I’ve read through this material. It seems clear to me. I don’t know who is the appropriate person to address that.”
Engineer Michael Sexton spoke for the applicants.
“I can’t speak for the EPC, but it’s my opinion that the EPC would have liked to have been approving site plans that were showing the lot configurations, how big each lot would be, how many units on each street; the details. We’re not there yet. So, they were looking for more detail. The master plan provides an environment that gives us the ability to design the next phase,” he said. “They were also asking a lot of questions as to how they could use some of this information with their future equestrian master plan.”
Village Attorney Laurie Cohen explained that with phased developments, each phase is considered on its own with its own master plan amendment and site plan.
“I think it was really just the Equestrian Preserve Committee felt they would have liked to have more information with respect to the overall plan for the entire PUD,” she said.
Attorneys for neighboring residents expressed concern over their quality of life in the area, the potential increased traffic and increased residential density as the growth of the area continues.
PZA Board Member Paul Adams asked to hear the staff’s response about the concerns brought up by residents.
“Horse people are drawn here by the beauty and the acreage and the other things that you have to offer, but the central thing is, they’re drawn here by the horses, and the horses, by their very nature, create traffic,” he said. “It’s growing, industry. So, the lifestyle gets affected by the success.”
Wellington planner Cory Lyn Cramer said that flexibility is one of the key benefits of using PUD zoning.
“The benefit of having a planned unit development is that there is flexibility in design and the ability to make these modifications as the development starts to progress through the development stage,” she said. “If you look at the master plan, you will see a table that provides you with all of the pods, and you will see that there are pods with phases that have a density that is much greater than one dwelling unit per two acres, but the overall PUD density is still one dwelling unit per two acres. That has not changed. As far as the construction and design of 40th Street, that is not part of this petition. It is not part of the request in front of you. The only thing that is, is the access point, and the access point is to illustrate on a general master plan, where the access point is.”
Adams favored the changes, saying they will improve mobility and traffic in the area.
“While I’m very sympathetic to the causes of all the people who had their lawyers here, I’m also sympathetic to dispersing traffic, particularly off of Pierson Road, and I’m also in favor of trusting my staff,” he said. “They’ve studied these issues, so I’m sure that they’re aware of the arguments that have been made.”
Adams characterized the proceedings as “one step in a multi-step process.”
“I’m in favor of supporting the staff. I’m in favor of dispersing traffic. I’m in favor of keeping the horse industry vibrant and moving ahead with due recognition to the owners,” he said. “As far as I can tell, our staff has done a professional job with a difficult subject.”
With that, Adams made a motion to approve the resolution, which was seconded by Mariaca. The motion carried 3-2, with Chair Carol Coleman and Vice Chair Andrew Carduner opposed.