Wellington Equestrian Committee Finishes Review Of Environmental Code

The Wellington Municipal Complex.

Wellington’s Equestrian Preserve Committee finished reviewing the environmental chapter of the village’s code on Wednesday, April 6, which it began at its last meeting on March 2.

It was the second time that the code had been before the committee. The Wellington Village Council had sent the environmental chapter back to the Equestrian Preserve Committee to scrutinize the best management practices section that focuses on livestock manure management.

The council approved the first reading of the village’s environmental chapter of the code of ordinances on Jan. 25 and directed the Equestrian Preserve Committee to take a second look.

The village has a legal obligation to observe the state’s laws on best management practices (BMPs), which the village has attempted to follow by enacting the revised codes.

Wellington has long been at odds with some equestrians regarding the BMPs on the handling of livestock waste.

The committee wrapped up the most contentious portion of the document that referred to required horse washes.

Committee Chair Jane Cleveland said she had made it clear to the council that the committee had a version that it had approved in November to go concurrently with staff recommendations that was not in the council’s draft.

There was a difference of opinion between what had been presented to the council and the committee’s recommendations, referring to staff requirements that all properties with a barn where horses will be housed must have a horse wash designed with a floor drain or drains where no water is permitted to leave the horse wash area except through an approved drain system.

The committee’s recommendation, taken from the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (FDACS), was, “If constructing a permanent horse rack, a concrete slab with a rough finish is ideal. Rubber mats or poured rubber particle finishes can also be used on top of the concrete, if desired. Slab drains can be designed to discharge into small on-site holding ponds or filter strip. If a drain in the slab is not constructed, the slab should be pitched so that the water gently runs off. A trench filled with gravel can then be incorporated into the design to receive water from the lowest point of the slab. If not using a permanent wash rack, rotate horse wash sites, using established turf areas to prevent mud and sedimentation problems. If necessary, portable rubber mats can be used to prevent denuding of turf areas. Whether permanent or temporary washing areas are used, locate them at least 50 feet away from water bodies, wells and domestic septic tank drain fields.”

Cleveland believes that the committee’s version of the horse wash rules should be considered by the council.

“I had to get up and tell the council that our version was not there,” she said.

Planning, Zoning & Building Director Tim Stillings said that the council had directed the committee to go back and look at the draft that the council had approved on first reading.

“That’s exactly what they asked you to do,” Stillings said. “To be honest with you, what we’re asking you to do is look at what they approved in January. That’s the language they’re asking you to look at.”

Stillings said the sections had been reformatted in the council’s version that omitted some of the committee’s language from the FDACS.

Committee Member Glen Fleischer said the Oct. 8 draft was where the committee had added the FDACS language, but it was after removing the original language. “That may be the confusion,” Fleischer said.

“The council never saw that version,” Commission Member Dr. Kristy Lund said.

Cleveland said that the committee’s version and the staff version were not presented side by side to the council.

“That’s why council sent it back to us,” she said, adding that what had triggered owners of horse property was that all properties with a barn on which horse washes will be done must have a horse wash area.

Lund made a motion to replace the language approved by the council in the preliminary draft with what the committee approved last November, which carried 7-0.