At a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 26, the Wellington Village Council reviewed several elements of a revised comprehensive plan for community.
Planning, Zoning & Building Director Tim Stillings explained that the comp plan, first adopted in 1999 and updated several times since, is required by state law for every municipality. The plan is currently going through a major rewrite, with several parts of it coming to the council for review each meeting. The previous plan had 11 elements, and the new plan will have 10, with some information combined and moved.
Stillings said that the comp plan is aspirational in nature.
“It is designed to lead us into the next 10 to 20 years,” he said, explaining that the purpose is to update all the elements in the goals, objectives and policies to reaffirm and revise them for the future.
The plan will address the changes in the community and shift the focus from development to preserving and protecting. It will also address changes to Florida Statues.
“We are bringing several elements to the council at a time to try not to inundate you with the whole thing at once,” Stillings said.
The plan has been before the appropriate advisory committees, boards and the public for input. After the council approves the first reading, it goes to the state for review, then it returns to the council a second time for more public input and final approval. The current comp plan will then be repealed, and the new plan put entirely in place of it.
Stillings presented the Land Use and Community Design Element, which establishes land use throughout the village and describes the objectives and establishes some reinvestment and redevelopment potential of certain properties. It is generally focused on the State Road 7 corridor, the area around the Mall at Wellington Green, older multi-family areas and the neighborhood commercial areas.
“Staff started working on this in the spring of last year, and the first elements went before the committees in November,” Stillings explained. “Each section will have a short introduction, and there is a new introduction to the entire comprehensive plan, which explains the purpose and how the plan works, but these elements will not be part of the ordinance. They are informational and will be in the final document.”
Councilman John McGovern commended Stillings and his staff for their hard work.
“You’ve collected important things that this council has been focusing on, and with this rewrite, they are exact statements of what this council wants to see,” he said.
McGovern questioned that breweries were specifically mentioned as an aspiration for the types of businesses the village might like to see.
Village Manager Jim Barnes explained that because such businesses are industrial as well as retail, such craft brewery pubs are a specific case that Wellington is uniquely positioned to take advantage of, because in many communities, breweries had to be in the industrial area, and the retail aspect of the business suffered because it was not located near other restaurants. Other sections of the plan stated that many types of businesses could potentially be located in Wellington.
“I think we’re in good shape here on first reading,” Mayor Anne Gerwig said.
After some discussion on minor points, clarifications and simple wording revisions, the measure passed unanimously.
The Community Partnerships Element of the comprehensive plan — previously called the Intergovernmental Coordination Element — was then reviewed. Its objective is to foster partnerships with governmental agencies and community partners to leverage all public and private agencies and organizations to improve the quality of life for Wellington residents.
“I really do love the name on this one,” Vice Mayor Tanya Siskind said. “It really says what the community is looking to do.”
That portion of the plan also passed unanimously.
Finally, the council also repealed and replaced the Capital Improvements Element of the plan.
Public input was offered for each section, but no members of the public gave input at the meeting.
In other business:
• Gerwig objected to the outside legal fees and costs to Kula & Associates P.A. The fees totaled some $30,000, and staff cannot approve items in excess of $25,000.
The agenda item approved the use of outside professional legal services to assist in matters related to Palm Beach Polo code enforcement cases, where 130 violations currently amount to some $5 million in fines. The case involves the appeal and cross appeal related to the fine reduction order entered by the Wellington Special Magistrate in the case.
“I disagree with the intent of this,” Gerwig said.
She would have preferred that the matter have been handled by in-house Village Attorney Laurie Cohen.
“But I agree that we should pay our bills,” Gerwig said, adding that she wanted her comments on the record.
Several council members who are attorneys commented that the matter is very complex, specialized and involved a formidable amount of money. The motion to approve the outside legal fees passed unanimously.
• During council comments, McGovern pointed out that everyone on the council and all of the village staff are doing everything they can to get a vaccine distribution point in the western communities.