Committee Prepares To Hear ‘Wellington 3.0’ Proposal

The Wellington Municipal Complex.

Wellington’s Equestrian Preserve Committee will soon hold the first official public meeting on developer Mark Bellissimo’s “Wellington 3.0” proposal.

The committee meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m. However, village officials told the Town-Crier early Thursday that the meeting will likely be held in January instead. It is currently set for Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 6:30 p.m. If needed, it will continue the following evening, also at 6:30 p.m.

At the heart of “Wellington 3.0” is a proposal to greatly expand the existing horse show grounds known as Wellington International, while creating at least two new residential communities geared toward equestrians, along with a commercial area also geared toward equestrians.

There are four items that will be on the Equestrian Preserve Committee’s agenda. According to Wellington Planning, Zoning & Building Director Tim Stillings, the items will likely be heard together, since they are related items. However, the board will need to vote on each separately.

The agenda items are:

• A comprehensive plan map amendment for “The Lagoon at Equestrian Village.” This is a comprehensive plan change for what is the current Global Dressage Festival show grounds at the northeast corner of South Shore Blvd. and Pierson Road, as well as the nearby White Birch property.

The request would change the property from equestrian commercial recreation to residential, and also remove the area from the Equestrian Overlay Zoning District (EOZD). The adjacent Coach House (former Players Club) property, which already has residential land use, would be merged into the new residential community.

Some versions of the plan include a golf course amenity on the White Birch land, known as “The Links at Equestrian Village,” but Stillings said specifics on that would come later.

“This designates the unit numbers,” he said. “That would come later when they submit a site plan.”

The concept map shows the existing indoor dressage arena being repurposed to provide recreational amenities for the new residential development, but specifics on that would also be part of the site plan phase.

• A rezoning application for “The Lagoon at Equestrian Village.” This would remove the 96-acre area from the Equestrian Overlay Zoning District and places it in a standard Planned Unit Development zoning district, which makes the zoning consistent with the comprehensive plan changes indicated in the first item.

• A comprehensive plan amendment for “The Estates at Equestrian Village.” This would change some of the subject property on the west side of South Shore Blvd. south of Pierson Road from PUD residential to equestrian commercial recreation to expand the existing show grounds by approximately 115 acres. It also brings together 168 acres of nearby land to create a new residential community, bringing in a five-acre undeveloped commercial parcel.

“The five-acre piece of property at the northwest corner of South Shore and Lake Worth Road is what is changing from commercial to residential,” Stillings said. “It is being combined with the other acreage to the north, which is now being placed into Pod E, which is residential.”

• The final item is a master plan amendment to the Wellington Country Place PUD that would update the master plan with the changes made through “The Estates at Equestrian Village” comprehensive plan amendment.

“There are residential units that are assigned to the property on the west side, which is called Pod F,” Stillings said. “Those units are being requested to be transferred into Pod E, so all the residential units would be in Pod E.”

Also part of the “Wellington 3.0” plan but not included at the upcoming meeting is a mixed-used development known as “The Market at Equestrian Village” on the 18-acre property currently known as the Professional Center at Wellington located at the northwest corner of South Shore and Greenview Shores boulevards. That is a largely undeveloped portion of commercially zoned land.

An application was submitted in early November for a comprehensive plan map amendment to change the future land use designation on the property from commercial to mixed use, which would include a variety of commercial uses, as well as multi-family units and a hotel.

“That is a separate application that they have submitted, but it is still in the review process,” Stillings said.

That parcel is not in the EOZD and would not go before the Equestrian Preserve Committee for review.

Stillings said that the flow of the meeting will be determined by the committee chair, but he expects that the items will be heard together, starting with a presentation by Bellissimo and his team, followed by a presentation by village staff.

“Ours is much more technical and will be tied to the actions that the board needs to take,” Stillings said. “It would be better if we go second.”

There will also be presentations by three groups that have been recognized as interested parties, likely to be represented by attorneys. One represents the Jacobs family, one represents Victoria McCullough of Mida Farms and one represents Equestrian Club Estates.

There will also be time for the public to comment, but it is unclear when that would be. If the presentations run long, at 11 p.m. the board has to make a decision to continue the meeting or return the next day. “We set aside a second night when we looked at it,” Stillings said.

The board can go through a series of questions and answers with the applicant, or they can take public comment first.

The village has a link on its web site where individuals can submit an online public comment. There have already been about a dozen comments received.

Stillings could not comment on the requested changes from a policy standpoint, but he could as a professional planner.

“Our recommendation in the staff report is for approval, with both the Lagoon and the Estates, where there are multiple conditions. More than 30 for each one,” he said.

Stillings explained that the village’s staff report lays out the merits of Bellissimo’s proposal.

“The Lagoon is logical change in the boundary line for the EOZD,” he said. “It is on the edge of the current boundary, so it is not like we are carving into the equestrian area.”

He added that having residential at the northeast corner of Pierson and South Shore was a likely scenario if it had been developed as part of Palm Beach Polo, until early developer Bill Ylvisaker decided to put a polo field there in the late 1970s.

“Then, with the Estates, the proposed new show grounds are at an appropriate location,” Stillings said. “There would be an economy of scale there. It is almost double the size of the current Equestrian Village site — 60 acres versus 115 acres.”

After the Equestrian Preserve Committee, the proposals head to Wellington’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board. From there, they head to the Wellington Village Council for two public hearings.

All the meetings will be held at Wellington’s Village Hall at 12300 W. Forest Hill Blvd.