WELLINGTON, Fla. — With the anticipated speakers enough to schedule three consecutive public meetings, Wellington's Village Council voted Tuesday night to postpone Wellington Lifestyle Partners' rezoning request for two different projects.
The new first hearing is at 6 p.m. on Nov. 13 for Wellington North and The Wellington South projects.
The delay removed the item from the council's agenda and stopped people from making remarks about the projects creating new housing and adding a new equestrian facility equipped with a stadium with seating for 7,000 people, along with retail space.
The decision to delay the project was made at the council, which enraged people who attended the meeting for the project. According to village documents, the council received more than 500 pages of comments about the two proposals from developers Mark Bellissimo and Douglas McMahon.
Siobhan Gallagher, who was at the meeting, said she moved her schedule around to attend Tuesday night's meeting. She said she's frustrated the proposal was pulled last minute and that she couldn't speak about it.
“I get here and they say nothing's happening. 'You can't talk. You can't have a voice,'" Gallagher said. "And that's very frustrating."
The two developers want permission to turn their current equestrian facility into a housing community. According to village documents, the community would have a driving range, golf clubhouse, gym and a pool.
Then, those same developers want to turn several plots of undeveloped land into a new equestrian facility, which is more than doubled the acreage of their facility.
Douglas McMahon, who spoke to WPTV on the phone, said a larger facility offers additional space to grow and is a safer facility. He also said farms can enter the new facility more easily with horse trailers.
McMahon said the developer has changed its proposal, like turning condominium buildings into homes and townhomes, to match the village's aesthetics. He said the application was for 470 units and was reduced to 210 units of housing.
"We're trying to listen, learn, modify and stay at it," McMahon said. "Where we can create a pathway to, again, ensure the showgrounds can grow. Which is great for the village, great for the industry, great for us as the developer, but great for everybody else that is passionate about Wellington."
The town of Wellington said in a news release that staff supported the request to delay putting the projects in front of the council because it gives staff more time to review recent changes to the request.
"Staff supports this request and recommends the request be approved to allow more time for staff to review the most recent modifications to the application and allow the applicant time to continue to address issues raised by interested parties and the community," the release said.
Officials said the project will not have to restart the entire process because the change isn't substantial enough to require a complete restart.
Bob Margolis, who is the former mayor of Wellington, said he's never seen an agenda item pulled like the developer's projects on Tuesday evening. He said an additional issue with the developer's plan is it uses land designated as an equestrian preserve area and believes approval would allow other developers to buy land on the preserve and build.
"If you open the door, then the door is going to remain for others," Margolis said.