Wellington wants non-village communities to stop using its name

The Wellington Village Council thinks the village has a branding problem.

Or, more specifically, it has a problem with developers and businesses using the Wellington name even though they’re not in the village.

The most recent case is Arden, a nature-focused new community that’s located miles west of Wellington’s borders. It’s in unincorporated Palm Beach County, west of Loxahatchee Groves and Lion Country Safari.

READ: First look: New development west of Wellington has community farm, 1-mile lake

Press releases that include promotional material for Arden include a Wellington dateline.

Sure, the homes will be zoned for Wellington schools — at least for now —and Arden’s zip code includes a sliver of Wellington, but using the name Wellington isn’t sitting so well with the village leaders.

Vice Mayor John McGovern called it “false advertising.” Councilman Michael Napoleone said it infuriates him. And Mayor Anne Gerwig said Wellington needs to protect its brand.

But protect it how? The answer to that question is much less clear.

It has been a problem in the past, Village Attorney Laurie Cohen said, specifically naming Wellington View, Wycliffe Golf and Country Club and Homeland, all developments outside of Wellington’s village borders.

Cohen said the village would have to prove that these developments are causing Wellington “irreparable harm,” something she thinks would be a challenge.

None of the developments are using Wellington logos or violating its copyright in any way, she added.

Wellington has asked some of these developers to stop in the past, most recently Arden, said Village Manager Paul Schofield. But it fell on “deaf ears.”

READ: 5 next big things for Wellington

“We’ve never been successful, and I’m not sure how we could be here,” Schofield said.

In a statement on the issue, an Arden representative recognized that the development is not in the village, but mentioned that it shares a postal code with a part of Wellington.

“Arden is located in unincorporated Palm Beach County, but the community has a zip code recognized as Wellington by the postal service,” said Andy Smith, Southeast Division President for Freehold Communities.

Gerwig acknowledged that the 33470 zip code does dip into the western portion of the village in environmental preserve land, but it’s mostly associated with Loxahatchee Groves and The Acreage.

And the council hopes to do something about it.

They want to try something, whether it’s a lawsuit, a cease-and-desist letter or Napoleone’s humorous suggestion of placing a sign in front of the development saying “this is not Wellington.”

“I can’t imagine we have no recourse,” said Councilman Michael Drahos. “We just have to be creative about this, and do what we can do to protect the residents and our brand.”

READ: Winding Trails development project gets final approval in Wellington

It’s a big deal for the council because it could mislead people who want to buy a home in Wellington and don’t realize it’s not in the village, McGovern said.

When someone buys a home in one of these outside communities, Wellington doesn’t see any benefit in taxes or otherwise.

“We want people who desire and intend to live here to know that by going there that is not what they’re doing,” McGovern said.

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