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Winding Trails residents worry about potential stench, noise of horses

How big is the Winding Trail project to Wellington residents?

It was important enough that more than 30 people spoke up Monday at a Planning Zoning and Adjustment Board meeting and stayed for 4 1/2 hours until 11:30 p.m. to give reasons why the equestrian development proposal near their neighborhood should — or should not — happen.

The plan would include barns with up to 12 horses per lot, owners apartments and groom’s quarters and re-purpose the defunct Wanderers Executive Course.

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Those who oppose say the stench and noise of horses should be relegated to the equestrian preserve.

“I love horses. I live horses,” Cara Cheska said. “I don’t want to live on top of horses.”

Those who approve call it a better alternative than a zero-lot-line community, which would add traffic for surrounding areas like Lakefield South and Aero Club.

After two hours of public comment, the board became the second advisory committee to recommend the Village Council approve the project, voting yes 5-1. The first was the Equestrian Preserve Committee in September. It will now go to the village council at an upcoming meeting for the first of two votes.

Ward Real Estate, which owns the property, is pushing the idea that these will be high-end developments. They’re adding as many lakes and as much greenery as possible to buffer the homeowners in Lakefield South and have said the owners will be wealthy equestrians who will be good neighbors.

“We see these as million dollar structures,” said Donaldson Hearing, who represents the Wards. “These are not inexpensive.”

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The developers have spent months listening to residents’ concerns and have revised the plans. They say there are measures in place to control manure smell, restrict hours of operation and minimize impact on homeowners.

But that’s not enough for those who worry they’ll be surrounded by horses.

Aero Club resident Drew Garrell said he can already hear people walking and talking on the roads outside his home. He painted a picture of what it might be like to live right next to busy equestrians.

“Imagine lying in bed on a Saturday morning when you want to sleep in for an extra hour and at 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock and a dump truck rolls by and then another and then another and then another,” he said.

For many others, and ultimately the board, the proposal is better than most higher-density alternatives. It will never be a golf course again and the village didn’t purchase it for a park. But something needs to go there, several speakers said.

“Realistically, there’s major growth going on, so people (need to) wake up and see what the Winding Trails project can bring to the table for our community,” said resident Adam Firsky, who specifically mentioned extra security and great landscaping.

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