About 70 people attended an organizational meeting Wednesday evening of the Landowners of the Equestrian Preserve. Owners and others interested in the Equestrian Preserve met at the Wellington Equestrian Gallery and Mall in the Courtyard Shoppes to hear plans for forming a group to represent the owners of property within Wellington's Equestrian Preserve Area.
While sharing wine and light refreshments, the group listened to the organizers explain the goals behind forming Landowners of the Equestrian Preserve. The group's core mission is preservation of the Equestrian Preserve, and goals include sharing information and presenting a united front before Wellington's Village Council.
"There's 9,000 acres and 1,000 landowners," said longtime resident Marell Jerkins. "I think with those kinds of numbers we can speak from a position of strength. You're speaking with people who care, not just people who want to make money."
Jerkins, a 23-year resident of Saddle Trail Park, will head the group's steering committee whose role will be to set its agenda. Jerkins encouraged everyone to read its mission statement and sign up to get involved.
Another landowner, Houston Meigs, who moved recently to Wellington from the Philadelphia suburbs, warned that Wellington could become as congested as the Devon, Pennsylvania, area that he left.
"It would be a shame to lose the country aspect of what Wellington offers in the name of progress or development of some kind," he said. "In my mind, the lack of good communication and the innuendo and misinformation has created a divisive environment for all of us interested in enjoying our horses and horse shows."
The group's organizers say they are unaligned with interests for or against the proposed Equestrian Village project, which has been divisive across Wellington.
The group's mission is "to promote and protect our way of life and to maintain our property values." The group is open to all landowners within Wellington's Equestrian Preserve, and will operate on a one-landowner, one-vote system.
Among its goals are to provide unbiased, accurate and timely information to members, and to present a united front in interactions with Wellington's Village Council and other governmental agencies.
There is a place for non-landowners as well, perhaps as "Friends of the Equestrian Preserve," such as Jack Van Dell, owner of Van Dell Jewelers and the Equestrian Gallery and the evening's host.
"I don't live there anymore, but I'm a semi-instigator," said Van Dell. "It's really important for all the landowners to get together and decide what you want your area to look like. The Village Council, they're all wonderful people, but they're not horse people," he added. "They're looking to hear from you."
The group's leaders asked those attending to sign up and share what topics they were concerned about, such as roads and traffic, horse shows, or stalls. Anyone wanting more information can email@example.com. The landowners agreed they would have at least one additional meeting before the end of the competition season.