Jane Cleveland, chair of Wellington’s Equestrian Preserve Committee, asked Wednesday for an update on the status of Equestrian Sports Productions’ application to have portions in the entertainment section of the Equestrian Overlay Zoning District allow “floating zoning districts” in order to allow for hotels in the area containing the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The committee heard the five related applications and recommended approval at its last meeting April 5, but at the Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board meeting on April 13, the applicant requested a postponement due to traffic data that the village’s traffic consultant said should be resolved.
The zoning board rescheduled the hearing to May 10, but Growth Management Director Bob Basehart said the application might be held up longer because it will have to go to the county for approval.
“It was postponed for 30 days,” Basehart said. “A number of outstanding issues hadn’t been resolved, and some new issues had come up, but primarily there still are some points of disagreement between staff and the applicant.”
Traffic issues appear to be a sticking point.
“They still have not been able to get their traffic approval either from our local consultant or from the county,” Basehart explained. “Since the project that has been submitted would generate more than 100 trips per day, it has to be reviewed by the county. It has been submitted, but it’s in the county process, and we don’t know when it’s going to come out.”
Basehart said the applicant has also committed to submit a master plan and conceptual site plan for the property, because members of both the equestrian board and the zoning board had felt uncomfortable considering a rezoning without having any idea of what is planned to go there.
“The master plan had not been submitted, so PZAB postponed it for a month,” he said. “It’s going to be on their agenda next Wednesday. Staff has recommended that it be postponed again, and the reason for that is because we are at the same place we were a month ago. The traffic approvals have not yet occurred, and the applicant did submit a master plan and conceptual site plan, but just did that last Friday.”
Packages went out to zoning board members a week before that, so those members would have no opportunity to review the plan or receive staff comment ahead of time.
“It was understood that the plan wouldn’t go to you or the PZAB until it had been reviewed by the Development Review Committee, and since those materials were just submitted last week, that hasn’t occurred yet, either,” Basehart said, adding that there is a possibility that the application could be remanded back to the DRC with the other applications because of expected amendments.
“Since we feel that it’s necessary that all this bundle of applications travel through the system together, they might as well just go back,” he said. “When you see the master plan, you’ll have the opportunity to review the other components as well.”
Basehart noted that both an appeal and a lawsuit have been filed against the applications.
“First of all, there is an appeal,” Basehart said. “The code provides that if someone disagrees with an interpretation the staff makes, they can appeal that to the PZAB. Also, any interested party has the ability to appeal a DRC certification, or lack of a DRC certification if you reach an impasse, to the PZAB.”
One of the parties that has registered as an affected party filed an appeal to the certification of the project, which will go to the zoning board in June, Basehart said, adding that the application cannot be decided until the appeal is decided.
“If the person who submitted the appeal wins the appeal, then it’s de-certified,” he said. “Everything is de-certified. Everything would have to go back to the starting point.”
An injunction has also been filed in circuit court asking for declaratory action.
“What they’ve submitted is a request to have the circuit court stop the processing of the applications until the appeals are decided,” Basehart said.
He said that the master plan for the project could conceivably come to the Equestrian Preserve Committee in June.