Controversial Wellington development project pushed back a month, now will go to council in November

A proposed residential project that has drawn significant community opposition while promising growth for Wellington’s equestrian sports scene will not be reviewed by the Village Council for another month.

The Wellington Equestrian and Golf Club, pitched by Wellington Lifestyle Partners, was originally scheduled to go to the council tonight, Tuesday, Oct. 10. But developers today requested a continuation, which was supported by staff and granted by the council.

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The council now will review the project — which could potentially remove about 96 acres of land from Wellington’s Equestrian Preserve Area and bring more than 200 residences to the village, in addition to amenities — beginning Nov. 14 with follow-up dates on Nov. 15-16 if needed.

Wellington Lifestyle Partners is Wellington Equestrian Partners, including Mark and Paige Bellissimo, and NEXUS Luxury Collection, a real estate development arm of billionaire Joe Lewis’ Tavistock Group. NEXUS’ investors include big names like Justin Timberlake, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els.

Opponents present for what they expected to be the first of possibly three meetings this week shouted objections to the decision, with council members toward the end of the meeting explaining that this is sometimes part of the process with development applications.

Vice Mayor Michael Napoleone explained that he sympathized with those in the audience who were disappointed, but continuations are allowed to be requested and granted. Each development application is permitted one postponement, per Wellington’s rules.

“You know, there was somebody I heard in the crowd say something to the effect of, ‘Why? Why are you doing this?'” Councilman Michael Drahos said, adding, “From my point of view, this is one of the most important votes if not the most important vote in the history of Wellington, so I do not want to rush it through, and we’re received a massive amount of information recently.”

With the lengthy exhibits, applications and reports that the council members need to review, Drahos said he wanted to “take the time to digest” so that he was ready when the application did come before the council.

“From my point of view, this was the prudent thing to do tonight, as much as it is frustrating,” he said. “We want to get on with it, we want to vote, we want to decide Wellington’s future once and for all. Let’s just do it the right way, take some time, make sure that we’ve had an opportunity to fully go through all of this so that when it does come time to vote, we’re all ready to do that.”

Mayor Anne Gerwig thanked Napoleone and Drahos for their comments and agreed.

“This is the process we’re working within that we have,” she said. “It is a lot of information.”

Wellington Lifestyle Partners’ request for continuation followed details released to the public and submitted to the village by the development team recently requesting lower density than originally projected on both the Wellington North and South.

The development team also submitted plans late last month to Wellington for a proposed expansion of the Wellington International equestrian showgrounds.

Click here to read more about the project.


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