The Wellington Village Council has approved Mark Bellissimo's highly controversial development project after a fourth, marathon council meeting on 7 February 2024.
Land Out of the Equestrian Preserve
The council agreed to take 96 acres of land out of the "equestrian preserve" for developer Mark Bellissimo and his "Wellington Lifestyle Partners" to build a highly controversial golf community.
Money for this project comes from Nexus, a real estate development company owned by Tavistock Group, which is headed by British billionaire Joe Lewis who was recently found guilty of insider trading and securities fraud.
This means that the land where the Global Dressage Festival is held as well as the derby jumping field, and adjacent White Birch polo fields will be turned into a residential community with 49 single-family homes, 47 townhomes, a clubhouse and golf facility.
Wellingtonians united in the group "Keep Wellington Green" and collected 8,000 signatures for a petition against the rezoning the land. "Horses, Not Homes" is their motto.
A last minute effort by a group of dressage people to "save" the land from development was completely ignored by the village council in the six-hour meeting on Wednesday. The investor group had obtained financial commitments for equity and a modest amount of debt of 25 million dollars in less than 48-hours to rescue Equestrian Village.
A very disillusioned member of Keep Wellington Green took to Facebook after the council vote and stated, "what I witnessed tonight was the biggest travesty I have seen in 7 decades of being on this earth. Four of the five VOW council members spit in the face of just about every resident of Wellington. And followed it up with a gut punch. We dined on misrepresentation, ignorance of the facts, circular explanations that went nowhere, total ignorance of anything horse, refusal to produce financial documentation that is industry standard and more."
Council Favours Homes over Horses
Mega developer Bellissimo has achieved a major victory for his highly divisive project as 96 acres will be transferred out of the 9,000-acre preserve, which has never been done before.
Vice Mayor Michael Napoleone was the sole “no” vote at this week’s meeting, the Palm Beach Post reported. Napoleone voted against Wellington North, a portion of the luxury residential project. He voted in favor of Wellington South, which the council unanimously approved. Mayor Anne Gerwig and council members Michael Drahos, John McGovern and Tanya Siskind voted in favour of both Wellington North and South.
Wellington Lifestyle Partners has agreed to over 30 conditions that include having to revert back the 96 acres to the equestrian preserve if it fails to build the new showgrounds by 2028. It must wait until the showgrounds are built before it is issued its first residential permit for homes on the Equestrian Village land.
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