Speeding A Huge Concern For Wellington Equestrian Committee

The Wellington Municipal Complex.

The broad topics of zoning and land use were on the agenda at the Wellington Equestrian Preserve Committee’s Tuesday, July 17 workshop, so specific topics — such as traffic, the village’s future and possible solutions to the ongoing horse manure issue — were bound to come up.

The workshop included a brief history of Wellington’s comprehensive plan, which was first adopted in January 1999. Since then, the preservation of equestrian land has been the subject of debate in the village, as have other issues, such as land use, transportation, housing, public school facilities, capital improvements and recreation.

Among the many issues that came up during the workshop was when the committee discussed the ways in which road connectivity and development currently affect horses and their access to public equestrian land.

“It’s difficult to cross 50th Street South with a horse, so most people are not going out of their property like before,” Committee Member Carlos Arellano said. “I don’t think people go out on bridle trails anymore because of the traffic.”

One reason why trail riding is becoming close to impossible for some residents of the Equestrian Preserve Area — as explained by several committee members — is the unsafe vehicle speeds throughout the preserve.

Committee Member Annabelle Garrett said she lives on 50th Street South and knows the traffic issues first-hand.

“Even the dump trucks forget about the 30-mile-per-hour speed limit and drive 60 miles per hour down the street,” she said.

Since the village is in the process of rewriting and re-examining some of its zoning codes, the committee agreed that trail riding has to be a top priority issue in order to ensure that equestrians have fair and safe access to the public spaces available.

“Trail riding within the equestrian preserve when you have roads, like Flying Cow Road, connecting to 50th Street, becomes a key issue for us to consider as we move forward,” Committee Vice Chair Glen Fleischer said. “[We have to consider] how to make sure we continue to preserve the ability for equestrians to make good use of all the land, which would include trail riding.”

Along with trail riding and the issues equestrians face with speeders, the overall effect of traffic on the equestrian industry was also a main topic of discussion.

Wellington Project Manager Michael O’Dell said that he thinks that the community will definitely see the impact of the growth going on in the surrounding areas. He pointed out that there is concern about traffic, especially on busy streets such as State Road 7, and the impact it has on the equestrian industry.

“The idea that if, as an equestrian, you are commuting into our area, and that commute gets to be somewhat of a headache,” he asked about equestrians. “Will they stay? Will they go? We need to deal with these kinds of things.”

The committee also discussed Wellington’s future growth.

O’Dell was present at the workshop to also best explain the village’s infrastructure and developmental future.

“[Within] our housing stock, which is our largest asset, some homes are approaching 40 years of age right now, so we’re looking for ways to promote reinvestment and redevelopment of some of the areas. We’re looking at how we can become competitive to everything going on around us,” O’Dell said. “In the 1970s, we were in the middle of nowhere, and now we’re in the middle of it all.”

Protecting the equestrian community remains vital for Wellington’s future, he said.

“The equestrian community is really important, economically, to our community,” O’Dell said.

O’Dell went on to explain the village’s emphasis on reinvestment and redevelopment plans to expand entertainment and retail spaces around the Mall at Wellington Green.

Committee members agreed with the idea of encouraging reinvestment in the village, in several different ways.

“You’re talking about reinvestments, and we know that we have a problem with manure disposal,” Arellano said, pointing out that land is available in the village’s western reaches. “Why don’t we take the opportunity that the property is for sale, have Wellington buy part of it and do the manure disposal there, within our village limits, and solve the problem.”

He said that Wellington should solve the manure problem within the community.

“Every year this is a continuing and growing problem, and if we can treat human waste right here on Pierson Road, there’s no way we can’t treat the horse manure on Flying Cow, so that’s a good reinvestment,” Arellano said.

O’Dell explained that the idea is valid but would be better considered once there are more answers on the status of the specific property he mentioned.

Fleischer added that the Equestrian Preserve Committee should consider some alternatives for manure disposal that the village has not yet considered.

The committee is expected to revisit most of these zoning and land usage issues and ideas in the coming months as the village begins concluding its work on rewriting its zoning code.