Wellington’s biggest fight in the past decade could be over.
This week, developers of Equestrian Village agreed to approvals Wellington’s Village Council granted in late October to finish the $80 million horse complex.
Barring “unforeseen circumstances,” as the developers put it, that should end legal battles between them and the village.
But it’s possible for the council on Tuesday to reconsider its Oct. 22 vote.
Councilman Matt Willhite has asked for just that, Wellington’s attorney Laurie Cohen said Wednesday.
The October vote, however, can’t be reconsidered unless a second council member supports Willhite’s request for reconsideration. And, even if that happens, the council would have to collectively approve any changes the reconsideration might yield.
Willhite could not be reached Wednesday.
“It will be an uphill battle for anyone to attempt to change the project at this point in time given the lengthy litigation history and massive effort that has gone into getting where we got to,” Dan Rosenbaum, an attorney who represents the developers, said Wednesday.
It took 18 months for the council and developers to find common ground.
“We consider it a huge victory,” Mark Bellissimo, who heads the development team, said earlier this week.
During the October vote, Bellissimo didn’t get everything his team had worked out with village staff for the 59 acres at the northeast corner of South Shore Boulevard and Pierson Road.
The biggest change was the council’s decision to remove a left turn lane planned for Equestrian Village’s Pierson Road entrance. Even without it, though, turns will be allowed in and out of the site.
Instead of adding the lane now — construction Bellissimo’s team would have paid for — village staff will study traffic patterns for the next year to decide if the lane is necessary.
“It’s not being excluded; it’s just not something that’s being included in this round,” Bellissimo said.
Bellissimo had the right to ask for the October vote to be reconsidered. The council offered the opportunity because its vote changed staff’s original resolution so much, it was difficult for Bellissimo’s team — and much of the public and council — to immediately decipher the adjustments.
After listening to a recording of the meeting Rosenbaum made slight modifications to the language of two conditions and forwarded them to the village this week.
Wellington’s attorney said she didn’t anticipate problems with Rosenbaum’s clarifications, but on Wednesday said she will wait until Tuesday’s council meeting before she does anything.
“I don’t know where this is going to go,” Cohen said.
The council’s October vote approved an additional entry and exit for Equestrian Village at Pierson Road, mainly for spectators and exhibitors. It also allowed for the complex to operate as a permanent commercial equestrian arena year-round.
The Jacobs family, who own a several-hundred-acre farm nearby on Pierson Road, have been the strongest critics of the project since its outset more than two years ago. They filed several lawsuits, which are ongoing.
Last month, through its attorney, the family argued that moving the Pierson Road entrance farther east in order to widen the road to allow for a left-turn lane was a bad idea.
After all, South Shore has more capacity than Pierson, and Bellissimo’s team had predicted an overwhelming majority of traffic would use South Shore and not Pierson, they argued.