I must be having déjà vu. This time last year, the Wellington Village Council gave Mark Bellissimo a special use permit even though road improvements and other conditions to his property had not been made. As discussed at last week’s council meeting, these improvements were actually imposed in 2013, but the applicant, Bellissimo, has still not completed the improvements. Surely, we can all agree that this was not an outrageous requirement. Developers should be held accountable to maintaining the surrounding area that they build on, especially in a premier equestrian destination like Wellington.
Bellissimo has used every loophole he could find to undermine the requirements of the village. Under Florida Statutes, property owners can receive extensions whenever the governor declares a state of emergency. In the past, Bellissimo used the statewide emergency for Hurricane Irma as his excuse for not completing the improvements. Although he had plenty of time, and could have easily completed the improvements before Hurricane Irma hit, it was valid enough and the council had to accept it.
This year, he has stooped to new lows by citing the state of emergency issued for the opioid epidemic for his inability to complete the required improvements. The use of an opioid crisis as grounds for not completing basic site improvements for your events is ridiculous — and an insult to everyone in Florida who has been truly impacted by the opioid crisis.
I appreciate the equestrian industry in Wellington, but for many years I have been skeptical of Mark Bellissimo and his vision for development in the Equestrian Preserve Area. We should not give someone who does not even do the bare minimum and abuses legitimate statewide emergencies an opportunity to further develop our community.
Daniel Herbert, Wellington