The Wellington Village Council on Tuesday approved a master plan buildout extension for the Wellington Parc project on the west side of State Road 7, without its planned connection to the adjacent Palomino Park development. The connection will remain barricaded to vehicular traffic.
Wellington Parc, located about a mile south of Forest Hill Blvd., was originally approved in 2006. Growth Management Director Robert Basehart said that the application was to approve a new traffic analysis to comply with county traffic standards, which apply to all developments regardless of whether they are in an incorporated area.
“One of the requirements is that… you do your analysis from the current time to the proposed buildout date of the project to demonstrate that traffic will perform adequately,” Basehart said, noting that the new buildout date will be 2020.
The original buildout date was 2011. In 2011, an extension was granted to 2015, when the applicant submitted a request for a state-mandated automatic extension.
The project was approved for 94 townhouses, all of which have been built, and about 32,000 square feet of office space. The infrastructure for the commercial portion has been put in, but the buildings have not been constructed.
“They have prepared a new analysis that demonstrates that if this project were coming in today, it could comply with the traffic performance standards,” Basehart said.
Staff recommended approval of the extension, with conditions reduced from 17 in the original approval down to eight, eliminating conditions that have already been complied with, and adding two that relate to the traffic analysis and state proportionate-share requirements, as well as a requirement for reimbursement to Palomino Park for bringing utilities to the site.
Councilman Michael Drahos asked what the timeline was for connecting the project to the office buildings at Palomino Park, so that Wellington Parc residents and visitors could get access to the traffic light there, and attorney Ellie Halperin, representing Wellington Parc, said that there is no timeline or obligation.
“At the current time, it’s going to stay barricaded,” Halperin said.
Vice Mayor John McGovern asked about the added conditions, and Basehart said that proportional share requires the applicant to pay $146,000 for utility lines.
“My understanding is that it is reimbursement to the developers of Palomino Park, because when they developed, they brought utilities to the site, extending them to service this site as well,” Basehart said. “There is a reimbursement policy that the village has of requiring when a developer extends lines that will also enable another property or properties to be serviced, that there is a pro rata share reimbursement when those properties develop.”
Mayor Anne Gerwig said the reimbursement has nothing to do with the barricaded connection, which also requires construction of a roundabout to complete the connection.
Village Attorney Laurie Cohen said that when Palomino Park was approved, there was a condition that they provide cross access.
“Unfortunately, when Wellington Parc was approved, there was no corresponding condition placed in their development order,” Cohen said. “Therefore, it is not a condition that they have to meet. The parties were unable to agree to the terms of a cross-access easement, and there was some mediation that occurred.”
As of now, all sides do not agree.
“Wellington accepted the form of the easement that Palomino Park had proposed. It was not anything that Wellington Parc agreed to, so we’re in this situation where even though it has been constructed, and it looks like it could be used, there is no requirement that it be opened up for use,” Cohen added. “It is our hope that the owners will come to some mutual agreement.”
In June 2015, the council rejected a settlement with the Palomino Executive Park Property Owners’ Association. The settlement, proposed by village staff, would have had Wellington pay to resolve Palomino Park’s dispute with the neighboring Wellington Parc development for cross access to join the two properties. The council at the time said it did not favor using public money to resolve disputes between private parties.
Gerwig said the intention of the council asking for the cross access is to keep traffic off of SR 7.
“When this was put in place, it didn’t do exactly what we wanted it to do,” she said. “We charged our village engineer with trying to go through and mediate that, and I believe that the amount that they were asking the village to participate in, which would have allowed that cross access to happen, was about $85,000, and a demand to allow the cross access through a process such as eminent domain would cost us more than that.”
Cohen added that the charter prohibits the village from taking on expenses that are developer expenses.
“I think that, eventually, the users of the property will come to the realization that the cross access is of benefit to them,” she said. “Hopefully, at that time, the parties will be able to agree to some sort of reimbursement for the construction of the roundabout and the maintenance obligations.”
Gerwig said that the unbuilt office space is probably key to the situation.
“That will probably happen when the commercial property is sold and developed,” Gerwig said.
“This is the first step toward that,” said McGovern, who made a motion to approve the time extension, which carried 5-0.
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