Developers were joined by several real estate agents at the Wednesday, June 10 meeting of Wellington’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board to speak in favor of a proposal to lift the prohibition on covered arenas in Winding Trails, a nine-lot subdivision in western Wellington geared toward equestrian estates.
In the end, the board agreed to recommend removal of the prohibition on the structures.
Winding Trails is known as Subarea F of Wellington’s Equestrian Overlay Zoning District (EOZD). It is an oddly shaped area being developed on a defunct golf course off Aero Club Drive. Winding Trails it is not contiguous with the rest of the EOZD. It was added to the EOZD when Winding Trails was approved in 2017.
The buildable area of the lots range from 2.43 to 4.45 acres, of which 20 percent would be able to be covered by a permanent roof. No tents or temporary roofs would be permitted. The covered area must match the materials of the main home. Under the proposed changes, even the smallest lot can accommodate a dressage arena.
The ordinance would amend Wellington’s Land Development Regulations to allow covered areas in Subarea F and make setbacks consistent throughout the EOZD. The measure will need a second hearing before heading to the Wellington Village Council for final approval.
Developer Patricia Holloway said that sales have been slow because of the prohibition. “Due to weather, buyers want covered arenas to use the property year-round,” she explained.
The prohibition of covered arenas was not mandated by the village originally; the applicant had volunteered the restriction. Holloway said that her firm made a number of concessions to secure the change in zoning, but no one on the applicant’s side recalls how the prohibition had come about.
PZA Board Member Salvatore Van Casteren was concerned that since sales were not going well, the applicant was coming in asking for a concession. “Will you come in again later asking for still more?” he asked.
Holloway felt this would be all that is necessary to spur on sales. She said that most covered arenas would be a roof over an existing sand lot. If someone wants to build a new arena, they have to go through engineering.
Covered arenas are a particularly coveted amenity in the dressage community. During the public forum portion of the hearing, Wellington real estate agent Matt Johnson said that it has come up repeatedly.
“50 to 60 percent of potential buyers in Winding Trails ask if they can build an arena,” he said, adding that he has potential purchasers for lots 1, 2 and 5 contingent upon permission to build a covered arena. “Four buyers in six months wanted a covered arena.”
Bonnie Silver is planning to relocate from California to Wellington year-round and is interested in lot 5 if the covered arena prohibition is lifted. “Matt told me Wellington was 75 degrees and sunny every day, and I am starting to believe that’s not true,” she said jokingly.
Silver continued that a covered arena would allow her to enjoy the equestrian lifestyle every day. “It will protect us from the rain and the heat,” she said.
Hope Greenfield sent an e-mail stating that she would be interested in buying in Winding Trails if she could have an arena to protect her from the sun and the rain.
A letter from the neighboring Lakefield South homeowners’ association supporting the change was read into the record.
There was one opposition e-mail read into the record complaining that Winding Trails was even allowed in the EOZD, since it is not contiguous with the rest of the district. A second opposition e-mail from Fernando Hoffman De Silva complained that some neighboring residents in Lakefield South oppose the change and didn’t know about the letter of support.
Wellington’s Equestrian Preserve Committee met June 3 and also recommended lifting the prohibition.
Village Attorney Laurie Cohen explained that two members of the Equestrian Preserve Committee had abstained, citing not enough information. She said that Florida law mandates that a committee member must vote and that an abstention counts as a nay vote. Therefore, the official vote was 5-2. The PZA board approved the recommendation unanimously.
Also at the June 10 meeting, Elizabeth Mariaca was chosen to serve as chair and Jeffrey Robbert as vice chair. The PZA board will take up an ordinance regarding vacation rentals at its July meeting.
Coming up this fall will be a review of a rewrite of the village’s Comprehensive Plan and corrections to glitches in the Land Development Regulations. Plans are to review the document twice a year until all the inevitable glitches are worked out.