The Wellington Village Council is scheduled tonight to consider a request from Mark Bellissimo for a special permit to operate the Global Dressage Festival he and his partners erected at Pierson Road and South Shore Boulevard in the equestrian preserve.
It should be a routine agenda item, but Mr. Bellissimo’s relationship with this council is anything but routine.
The permit is one of several applications Mr. Bellissimo agreed to submit as part of a settlement designed to give him a fresh start with the council. The assumption is that Mayor Bob Margolis and Councilors Matt Wilhite and John Greene, who campaigned against his $80 million “equestrian village” and killed the project once in office, will view the new applications with more objective eyes.
Mr. Bellissimo sued the village after those three councilors revoked, on a technicality, the permits he received from a previous council to operate dressage. The lawsuits consume hours of village staff time and are costing taxpayers thousands in legal expenses.
The settlement puts the brakes on the legal action in the hope that the issues can be resolved through the normal governing process.
That can happen if only the those councilors put aside their personal issues with Mr. Bellissimo.
The council should approve the special permit that would allow about 100 horse shows from November to May. They approved a similar one last year that expired April 30.
And Mr. Bellissimo should comply with all the terms.
Earlier this year, his Equestrian Sport Productions put up a tent and bleachers without permits or inspections. Mr. Bellissimo has for years been accused of flaunting village rules. The perception that he gets away with it helped fuel opposition to his equestrian village project.
The council will take up Mr. Bellissimo’s new applications for the equestrian village in August or September. Gone is the hotel and 85,000 square feet of space for offices, retail and restaurants — the elements of the previous plan most odious to opponents. His request calls for the site to be designated as a commercial equestrian arena. That would allow the Global Dressage Festival to continue every year without the special permit now necessary.
Village staff have recommended approval, noting it is consistent with the equestrian preserve and “will not only further the equestrian industry in the area but it will encourage ancillary equestrian uses within the general vicinity.”
Messrs. Margolis, Wilhite and Greene all said they favored dressage as council candidates. The only reason not to approve the special permit and new applications would be spite.
for The Post Editorial Board