WELLINGTON, Fla. — It's been nearly a year since a developer submitted an application to build on two Wellington nature preserves, but on Monday as residents were minutes away from giving public comment on the proposal, a representative from Brefrank Inc. withdrew the application citing errors in the text and mapping.
Protesters had gathered hours before the Village meeting to hold signs outside Village Hall and recruit more people. They piled into the council chambers ready to tell council why it should vote no to change the land use map from conservation to regional commercial and multi-purpose use, but then the unexpected happened.
“I am going to withdraw my application and resubmit my application so it’s correct,” said Gary Koolik of Brefrank Inc.
The current application to build a restaurant and lake on a five-acre preserve off Forest Hill Boulevard has text and mapping errors, the Brefrank representative informed the council. It was hard for one council member to keep his composure.
“I have to tell you, I’ve never seen anything like this. Mr. Koolik, I cannot believe that after 11 months you’re coming in here today and trying to tell us with a straight face that you don’t know what you want and you don’t know how to get it,” said Councilman Michael Drahos. “It’s nonsense.”
Koolik told the council the errors just came to light last week and were, evidently, an issue late Monday afternoon. It was disappointing to hear for residents like Taylor Davis who said she dedicated five hours of her day to be a part of the protest and planned to make a public comment.
“It’s hard to come out here so I hope this is not a tactic that’s being used to sort of manipulate the masses,” Davis said. “Ultimately, I understand the developer’s position, I get that he’s just defending his best interest and it’s certainly within his rights, but this is his last option for expansion and it’s just not Wellington’s last option.”
The developer plans to resubmit the application, but it will have to go through the entire public hearing and comment process again.