Since the late 1970s, our family has lived either full-time or part-time in Wellington, enjoying the rural environment of the Wellington Equestrian Preserve. The Winter Equestrian Festival has been a part of our lives since its inception, and we are happy to see how the equestrian community in Wellington has grown and thrived over the years. We have every intent to protect the equestrian community and the benefits it provides to all residents of Wellington.
As riders, trainers and competitors, we believe Wellington’s equestrian community is now under attack. As numerous acres of open space where horses once grazed and riders rode freely have become developed, the equestrian industry is forgetting its very soul — the horse. Regardless of how developed the show grounds become, how many riders participate or how big the crowds get, it means nothing if it jeopardizes the safety and security of horses and riders.
To be clear, our family supports development and growth. But development should occur responsibly and in areas where it is best suited. If you build hotels, condominiums and apartment complexes within the equestrian preserve, you reduce the amount of open space. The increased number of buildings will require wider roads and more lanes — and invariably lead to terrible traffic congestion and threatening rider safety. Eventually, overdevelopment and its associated safety issues will cause the equestrian industry to find other, safer venues — away from Wellington.
Therefore, we unapologetically support Wellington’s ballot Question 3 because it will help protect the equestrian preserve — a unique area designated for low-density, low-traffic, rural equestrian uses and abundant green space. With a “yes” vote, Wellington’s residents can ensure that the preserve is not gutted by a developer who wants to allow motels, hotels, condo hotels and apartment buildings. This question ensures that only Wellington’s voters could change it — not a few members of the Wellington Village Council or developers.
Mark Bellissimo’s blatant misinformation campaign, including a letter in last week’s Town-Crier, alleges that our family is the only one to benefit from a “yes” vote on Question 3. Let me state unequivocally that, unlike him, our family gets no financial benefit from our advocacy. In truth, everyone who enjoys a strong tax base, better funding for public schools and a high level of community services, and believes that we don’t need more traffic, will benefit from a “yes” vote on Question 3.
Unbridled development in and around the equestrian preserve will kill the very industry that it was created to promote. Wellington’s equestrian industry has thrived without hotels, condos and apartment complexes in the preserve. There is plenty of commercial space in Wellington where those facilities can and should be built without issue. So it’s simply false logic when a developer claims we need to undo the equestrian preserve to build new condo hotels or risk losing the equestrian industry, when that developer could build those hotels and retail complexes down the street from WEF, outside the preserve.
The misinformation campaign also claims that Question 3 would prohibit groom’s quarters and more within the Equestrian Overlay Zoning District (EOZD). We all know that is not the truth. Wellington Village Attorney Laurie Cohen rebutted the misinformation with a clear statement:
“Groom’s quarters, caretaker quarters, mother-in-law suites and guest cottages are permitted within the EOZD… and will continue to be permitted within the EOZD if the amendment passes.”
The equestrian preserve protects and enhances Wellington’s way of life. We hope that Wellington residents who want future generations to enjoy the same benefits will join us in protecting the preserve, and all of Wellington, by voting “yes” on Question 3.
Lou and Charlie Jacobs, Wellington