Mark Bellissimo and his partners are heading to the Wellington Village Council after securing two favorable recommendations and three against their controversial proposal for a mixed-use luxury housing development in Wellington.
The non-binding votes from the Wellington Planning, Zoning and Adjustment Board came last week at the third meeting covering proposed ordinances that would pave the way for the project. The meetings — including two in July — dragged on for hours as members of the public spoke against and in favor of the project, called The Wellington, and the developers went back and forth with the board over questions. The meeting last week ended after midnight.
Wellington Lifestyle Partners, a joint venture between Bellissimo’s Wellington Equestrian Partners and Nexus Luxury Collection, is seeking land use and density changes within Bellissimo’s large assemblage of land, including transferring land out of the Equestrian Preserve. The project, divided into Wellington North and South, was unveiled earlier this year to include single-family homes, condos, a commercial complex and an expansion of the Wellington International equestrian facility and showgrounds on hundreds of acres.
Nexus includes British billionaire developer Joe Lewis’ Tavistock Group, golf greats Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake and founding eBay president Jeff Skol.
In late July, Lewis turned himself in to the feds on insider trading charges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which alleged he orchestrated a “brazen insider trading scheme.”
The Village Council is expected to vote on the Wellington ordinances later this year, though the developer and the town did not respond to questions on timing.
At the planning and zoning meeting, the board was hesitant to recommend taking 96 acres of land out of the Equestrian Preserve, particularly because the developer hasn’t submitted an application detailing the proposed expansion of Wellington International, which so far includes moving dressage to a separate site. The proposal to remove land from the Equestrian Preserve has garnered significant opposition. Many residents also have concerns over the effects the project will have on quality of life, traffic and infrastructure, and whether it would set a precedent.
The planning and zoning board’s vice chair John Bowers said that supporting transferring land out of the preserve was his biggest concern. He was reluctant to try to come up with language for the developer that the rest of the board would support.
“I don’t know how to design a showground that’s going to be effective,” he said. “I feel like I’m out of my element.”
Board member Tracy Ciucci made the motion to deny without prejudice or table three ordinances, which included taking land out of the preserve. The ordinances seek amendments to the Wellington North comprehensive land amendment, the Wellington North rezoning, and the Wellington North master plan amendment. Her motion passed 5 to 2, with board members Maureen Martinez and Satesh Raju voting against it.
The board voted to recommend approval of a master plan amendment and a comprehensive plan amendment for the Wellington South assemblage, but modified the changes to require reduced density of housing units and an increase in the number of smaller farm lots.