The package of proposed changes to a development plan by Wellington Lifestyle Partners produced growing pages of online text and stacks of printed paper as Wellington Village Council members scrambled to digest it all in the days and hours before a planned Tuesday, Oct. 10 meeting, before agreeing to postpone the hearing to Tuesday, Nov. 14.
On the verge of the October meeting, a part of the plan known as Wellington South featured 114 lots, including five farms of four or more acres and 109 of at least a half-acre in size, according to Wellington’s Planning, Zoning & Building Director Tim Stillings.
The Wellington South area consists of nearly 270 acres near South Shore Blvd. and Lake Worth Road, east of Gene Mische Way.
The most recent plan for Wellington North would host 48 single-family homes and 48 multi-family residences, mostly townhomes, on more than 100 acres near South Shore Blvd. and Pierson Road, Stillings explained.
In various places, the number of proposed homes has been falling as some lot sizes have been growing. A key issue remains: It will take four of five council votes to remove, for the first time in village history, nearly 100 acres from the Equestrian Preserve Area, which is a requirement of the Wellington North plan.
A staff report has described that as a little more than one percent of the total preserve area, all in parcels north of Pierson Road, though opponents have argued it represents an ill-advised precedent to chip away at the preserve when it becomes profitable for landowners and developers.
Preserve status sharply limits what can be built there.
In a letter dated Oct. 5, Wellington Lifestyle Partners asked village residents to view the plan as part of a larger vision that involves doubling the Wellington International horse showgrounds and moving dressage from a separate location into a space shared with hunters and jumpers.
The showgrounds expansion faces its own approval process. The immediate question before the council is whether to approve comprehensive plan amendments and rezonings that will open the door to the expansion, as well as to hundreds of homes and accompanying amenities.
Required master plan amendments would be considered should those initial approvals go through.
The pitch from equestrian businessman Mark Bellissimo’s team includes that it is making significant concessions on density.
“Across our three privately owned land parcels, we’ve dramatically reduced our request (by over 50 percent) from 448 residential units to 210,” the Wellington Lifestyle Partners letter to residents said.
The letter described both the showgrounds expansion and a “new residential club community” as important to “add to the financial vitality and prosperity of the Village of Wellington for years to come.”
Part of the plan would be a “walkable, charming ‘main street’ that will include a luxury boutique hotel, six restaurants and roughly 24 shops, along with office space and a park,” the letter continued.
In addition, the project would provide $2 million for public parks, more than $720,000 for local schools and more than $6 million for improvements on roads and pathways, the developers noted.
The latest changes come after concerns raised by two advisory boards.
In August, the village’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board approved Wellington South subject to conditions of lower density, but advised the council to deny or delay Wellington North until the showgrounds expansion plans and other issues come into clearer focus.
The village’s Equestrian Preserve Committee voted 7-0 in opposition in June.
Still, those opinions are advisory only, and the council holds final say in the matter.