OPINION: Not Capitulating To Developers Is In The Best Interest Of The Village Of Wellington

There is a thought process that if the Bellissimo development project (The Wellington North & South) is not approved, it will hurt the equestrian community. However, that is the exact opposite of the reality. The concern appears to be, “what if” Bellissimo evicts equestrians from the Global Dressage venue on the corner of South Shore and Pierson or lets the land go fallow if he does not receive desired high-density zoning changes. Making drastic, irreversible decisions based on fear mongering generated by developers is not in the best interest of Wellington. This application must be denied. Better options can only come forth if true equestrians are at the helm with an authentic desire to be the appropriate stewards for the equestrian community going forward.

The threat by the applicant to not allow venue enhancement/expansion is not a justifiable reason to remove land from the Equestrian Preserve Area because one specific person is demanding rights far outside the realm of what is allowable according to village ordinances, regulations and zoning. These requests are extremely incompatible changes in trade for the community to hand over an enormously valuable asset, which is EPA land. This landowner is inflexible and holding out for nothing more than personal gain, not community benevolence. A quid pro quo, where the applicant is requesting hundreds of millions of dollars of land use concessions in exchange for only a vague promise of new equestrian showgrounds, should never be considered when the applicant has a long history of failed promises and has failed to provide basic information regarding ownership or the proposed site plan or how it will be financed or operated.

Not knowing what a landowner will do next does not warrant removing land from the EPA. Even if the current owner chooses to do nothing and does not allow dressage to compete at that location, it will be OK; dressage can relocate locally. Acting out of fear of the unknown does not support an irrational approach forcing the idea that the only solution for residents, staff or the council to solving this fabricated problem is to approve an application that simply is not the right plan for this village or the equestrian industry. Currently, show jumping is healthy, polo is healthy, and dressage could be healthier had it been allowed to flourish over the past 11 years if it weren’t restricted due to this landowner’s failure to perform required road work.

The ploy of future showgrounds expansion is still in the “hopes and dreams” category. Due diligence will reveal a very fragile situation in regard to the current potential party for the purchase of or buildout of the showgrounds on the parcel in the Wellington South section. Please do not be distracted by the carrot on the stick.

Upholding our essence as a village should be the primary mission. Many pages of the Wellington web site refer to the village as an equestrian community. In fact, it is described as “distinctive and in many ways the heart of Wellington.” A high majority of the non-equestrian community embraces the equestrian community’s significance to Wellington and does not want to see it disappear. This application was already voted down by Equestrian Preserve Committee (7-0) and the Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board (5-2). The expectation is for the Wellington Village Council to represent the village at large (defined in the charter) over the interest of self-serving developers.

Maureen Brennan, Wellington