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Wellington Equestrian Preservation Alliance
Applauds Village Councilís Approval of Dressage Festival
Written by: Angie Francalancia Client:Wellington Equestrian Preservation Alliance Release Date:2012-08-17
WELLINGTON, FL. — The Wellington Equestrian Preservation Alliance commends the Wellington Village Council for its decision to allow the 2012-13 Global Dressage Festival to be held at the new Equestrian Village site.
“The Council showed tremendous resolve in trying to find a middle ground that would accommodate event organizer Mark Bellissimo and citizens with concerns about his plans for holding the Global Dressage Festival in the Equestrian Preserve,” said Michael Whitlow, a member of the Equestrian Alliance’s board of directors.
Fellow board member Barbara Richardson said, “It is difficult to balance the needs of the equestrian industry with those of the equestrian residents. The conditions that the Village imposed on the festival are a good start at restricting the commercial sprawl of the facility.”
Mat Forrest, Executive Director of the Equestrian Alliance, also expressed support for the festival, but says more changes could be made to the EquestrianVillage facility to make it more compatible with the community. “We remain opposed to the location of the permanent and temporary barns. They are simply too close to the existing neighbors. They have been placed in the most convenient location for the new show grounds and not in a location compatible with the residents who were there first.” Previous equestrian facilities on this site placed barns away from residents who live adjacent to the show grounds.
Both Whitlow and Richardson said they hope that the events slated for Equestrian Village, including 6 dressage events and 4 jumper events that are scheduled to run between November and April 2013, are a financial success for its organizer, event sponsors and Wellington’s equestrian industry. “However, it’s important to keep in mind that the Alliance’s support for the Festival is not unconditional,” said Whitlow. “We still have serious concerns about the GDF’s possible negative impact on the Preserve, including the neighboring properties. The Equestrian Overlay Zoning District is the Preserve’s bill of rights, and we will make every effort to make sure that bill of rights is not violated.”
Along those lines, the Alliance backs the conditions the Council imposed on the Festival, among them limitations on daily attendance—to 2,000—hours of operation and entry and exit to show grounds from only South Shore Boulevard.
“The Council was quite clear that it expects Mr. Bellissimo to follow all rules, and that he must respect the Village’s permitting process from now on,” said Richardson. “The Village’s permitting procedures provide a reasonable level of protection for Wellington’s lifestyle. The onus is on Mr. Bellissimo to abide by the rules. If he doesn’t, the upcoming dressage season could be lost.”
Looking ahead, the Alliance intends to seek further collaborations with the Village in an effort to balance the needs of the equestrian industry and the residents of the Equestrian Overlay Zoning District. The EOZD is an area of Wellington that preserves and enhances the equestrian community’s rural lifestyle. It includes the Equestrian Preserve.
“We will continue to be a voice in the discussion about Wellington’s unique way of life,” Richardson said of the Alliance.