Peterborough Planning Board approves 14-unit development near High Street

Members of the Peterborough Planning Board, from left, Andrew Dunbar (alternate), Stephanie Hurley, Michael McGill, Chair Lisa Stone and Carl Staley, applicant Ivy Vann, standing, and Blair Weiss. 

Members of the Peterborough Planning Board, from left, Andrew Dunbar (alternate), Stephanie Hurley, Michael McGill, Chair Lisa Stone and Carl Staley, applicant Ivy Vann, standing, and Blair Weiss.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Ivy Vann discusses the plan for a proposed 14-unit townhouse development off of High Street. 

Ivy Vann discusses the plan for a proposed 14-unit townhouse development off of High Street.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS


Monadock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 04-18-2024 8:33 AM

Modified: 04-18-2024 8:58 AM

The Peterborough Planning Board voted 4-2 Monday to approve Ivy Vann’s and Hugh Beyer’s application for construction of a 14-unit development off High Street after a public hearing.

The hearing on the subdivision application followed a site walk of the proposed development on the couple’s property adjacent to Peterborough Elementary School. A new private road, Pocket Lane, will be constructed as part of the project and provide access to High Street. 

The project was approved on completion of certain conditions, including requirements for 24 parking spots for the 14 units, a vegetative buffer to provide screening from neighboring homes, an updated lighting plan and completed stormwater control. 

“We are very grateful for the Planning Board’s thoughtful consideration of our application,” Vann said after the hearing.

Planning Board Chair Lisa Stone and members Carl Staley, Blair Weiss and Michael McGill voted for the proposal, with alternate Andrew Dunbar and Stephanie Hurley voting against.

Planning Board member Sarah Steinberg Heller, who recused herself from the vote as a resident of High Street, spoke in favor of the project.

“I just want to state that I am support of this proposal. It’s a good project,” Steinberg Heller said. 

Hurley expressed concern about the number of parking spots provided for the units, which are currently slated to number 24, but could be reduced by requirements from the Fire Department if they request a turning zone in the planned parking lot. 

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Vann responded that she felt the “more logical” solution for the Fire Department would be to back trucks into the courtyard of the townhouse complex, and noted that the courtyard would have removable bollards specifically for this purpose. 

“It would make more sense for the Fire Department to back into the courtyard for access to the buildings and then pull out, but we absolutely can and will accommodate whatever they ask us to do,” Vann said. 

Town Planner Danica Melone said her office had been in talks with the Fire Department about access to the Pocket Lane project but that nothing was formalized in writing yet. 

“We have been working with the Fire Department. At this point they are satisfied they can get to these units, ” Melone said. 

The Planning Board also discussed vegetative buffers between the complex and neighboring houses, the possibility of adding parking to Pocket Lane and the existence of a 50-foot easement owned by the ConVal School District.

“When we met with ConVal, they were not even aware that they had this easement, so they are going to figure out what they need,” Vann said. 

Hurley raised the possibility of a traffic study. 

“I’m concerned about the traffic from 14 new housing units entering High Street, and I’m concerned about that five-way intersection, which is one of the most-dangerous intersections in town. I would like to know how this project will impact that intersection,” Hurley said. “I think we should have a traffic study done.”

Stone noted that four traffic studies had been completed recently in Peterborough, including at the Old Stone Barn development on High Street, and that the results of traffic studies in Peterborough typically “do not provide the information people are looking to find.” 

“What we’ve seen is that our town is just not populous enough to require traffic studies. What we usually get from the traffic studies is that they recommend traffic-calming measures,” Stone said. “That is something we can work with DPW on.”

Melone said the town could suggest traffic-calming measures similar to the ones planned for the Carley Road development. 

In the public hearing portion of the meeting, abutters and neighbors of the Pocket Lane development expressed strong objections to the project moving forward. Liz Ogden, manager of the Contoocook Valley Housing Trust, a six-unit affordable housing complex abutting  Pocket Lane, said the new project would “take away all my current parking,” and that it was unrealistic for High Street to accommodate overflow parking from the new units. 

Vann responded that tenants of the Contoocook Valley Housing Trust “have been parking on our land for 25 years free of charge.”

“We have never asked those tenants to move their cars,” Vann said. 

High Street resident Tammy Lenski said she thought parking on High Street was going to be a problem.

“It seems unfair that Contoocook Valley Housing Trust, which is affordable housing,  is going to be negatively impacted by this development,” Lenski said. 

Ellen and Charles Derby, abutters to the Pocket Lane property, thanked the Planning Board for their patience and for hearing their concerns, which included a request for a vegetative buffer. 

“We’ve been in our house for 53 years, and now we’re going to be looking right into people’s second-floor windows,” Charles Derby said. 

In response to concerns from abutters and neighbors, Beyer, Vann’s husband and business partner, said it is their intention to build “the best project we can build.” 

“High Street is a wonderful community, and we think this project will add to the community, and enhance it,” Byers said. “We want to do a good project that will work with the neighborhood.”