Wellington Council Tasks Staff With Most Special Use Permits

The Wellington Municipal Complex.

The Wellington Village Council approved an ordinance Tuesday, Aug. 22 designed to streamline the process for the issuing of special use permits, with an eye on the upcoming equestrian season.

Project Manager Cory Lyn Cramer presented an ordinance and resolution within the Development Review Procedures and Development Review Manual that would streamline the approval process for special use permits, equestrian use permits and extended hours of operation for conditional uses that currently are required to go before the council for review and approval.

The staff recommendation was that any request with less than 30 event days in a six-month season go to staff for approval, specifically the new development review manager, and anything else go to the council for approval.

During the meeting, Village Manager Paul Schofield suggested simplifying the wording to include two categories: special use permits and seasonal permits that exceed 30 event days.

Planning, Zoning & Building Director Bob Basehart said that in the past, unless something was longer than eight days or had amplified music, it went to staff for approval.

“There has not been a single equestrian permit that has been denied. There has not been a single case where any of the recommended conditions of approval by staff were changed in any way,” Basehart said.

Vice Mayor John McGovern thanked staff for making the procedures more concise and user-friendly. Shorter events, such as winter carnivals, do not need to be reviewed each year. However, he added, those that affect public safety, traffic and are long-term are different types of events.

Jane Cleveland, chair of the Equestrian Preserve Committee, urged making Wellington’s approval system more user-friendly.

“In the spirit of supporting all horse shows and all competitive events, whether they’re big and prestigious or smaller for the younger riders or newer riders, or riders who maybe can’t afford as much, while we have a great need to support our big venues, we feel it is very, very important to encourage any level of competition,” she said. “Those need to happen at places that are maybe not at the bigger venues.”

The Equestrian Preserve Committee, she said, has received feedback that coming to the council each year is cumbersome, time constraining and expensive.

“In the spirit of supporting all levels of equestrian activities and competitions, we want it as easy as possible to get these special permits,” she said.

McGovern asked Cramer how many events were considered in 2016.

She said that there were 14 total applications between special use or equestrian seasonal permits, with five or six more than 14 days. Not one of the events was a first-time event.

McGovern suggested that consideration be placed on first-time events, in general, as well as whether the council would not like to see an event in future years after it has already been approved by staff.

Councilman Michael Napoleone urged against second-guessing the professional staff.

“I don’t want to micro-manage every event that comes through the village,” he said. That’s not what we should be doing up here.”

Cramer pointed out that for the one-time events, the cost for the current process would be more than it would for them to set their tents up for a one-day event or a three-event.

“If you’re considering all special use permits for the first time, that would fall into that category,” Cramer said.

Schofield said that the wording will be adjusted by the next meeting to specify when an item would need to go to the council.

Napoleone made a motion to approve the first reading of the ordinance as amended, with the language reading seasonal use permits that exceed 30 event days going to the council, and those that are less than 30 event days going to staff. The motion passed unanimously.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda was approving the Law Enforcement Services Plan for fiscal year 2018, which passed unanimously.

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Rolando Silva addressed the council about what the PBSO is doing in Wellington and what its plans for the future are.

Among those plans is the addition of two officers, one to act as a detective and one to work on the street team.

“This year, as in years past, our focus is going to be on juvenile-related crimes, property crimes and the reduction of traffic crashes in the village,” he said.

In fiscal year 2016, there were 19 robberies, 11 caused by juveniles and eight by adults. In fiscal year 2017, so far, the total number is down to 14 cases.

“Vehicle burglaries are a primary concern in the village. The main thing that is happening is that people are not locking their cars, which makes it very easy for suspects to go around to different neighborhoods and open the doors, and they get in and out within 20 to 30 seconds,” Silva said. “People need to do their part. Get the basics right, lock their cars, put away valuables. Just simple things like that.”

There was a 51 percent increase in vehicle burglaries for fiscal year 2017 compared with 2016.

“We need to continue to work on this effort to get people to lock their doors as much as possible,” he said.

The PBSO is working on various action plans to improve the numbers and prepare for population growth.

Schofield stressed the importance of the PBSO phrases “see something, say something” and “when in doubt, call it out,” as well as calling the PBSO’s non-emergency number, (561) 688-3400, when a call does not require the immediate attention of 9-1-1.

In other business, the council had three applicants for an appointment to the Public Safety Committee, an at-large appointment, and chose Cheri McBrayer for the seat. McGovern said that McBrayer not only has a background in public safety and in nursing, but she is a probation officer and would be helpful with providing insight into interacting with youth in the community, conveying that crimes of opportunity and boredom have consequences and implications for the future.

McGovern has three vacant seat appointments available, for the Equestrian Preserve Committee, the Tree Board and the Architectural Review Board. For more information, or to express interest in one of the positions, contact McGovern at (561) 791-4000 or jmcgovern@wellingtonfl.gov.