New look for Equestrian Village presented to Peterborough Planning Board

Fieldstone Consulting’s rendering of the proposed subdivision off Burke Road, at the existing Shadow Fox Farm equestrian property. 

Fieldstone Consulting’s rendering of the proposed subdivision off Burke Road, at the existing Shadow Fox Farm equestrian property.  COURTESY FIELDSTONE CONSULTING 

By JESSECA TIMMONS

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 01-09-2024 12:18 PM

Modified: 01-10-2024 2:08 PM


Nearly 30 abutters and neighbors from the Burke Road and Contoocook Lane neighborhoods, as well as Peterborough Planning Board members, heard about design changes to the proposed Equestrian Village development Monday night.

Plans for the existing Shadow Fox Farm equestrian property off Burke Road currently include 53 homes. Chad Branon of Fieldstone Land Consultants and attorney James Callahan represented Star Mountain Properties, a Miami-based developer. Branon noted that the project is still in design phase and that Star Mountain has not submitted a formal application for the project. 

“The formal application will include a lot more detail. There is still a lot of work to be done,” Branon said. 

In response to feedback from the Planning Board and public comments from November, modifications to the design include a revised roadway layout, including plan profiles for all the roadways that follow the topography of the property and keep most roads at between a 3% and 5% grade. The revised design removes the professional-scale equestrian barns from the calculated open space. The barns will remain part of the main residence parcel. 

“The fields and paddocks are counted as open space. The barns are no longer counted as open space. We took that out of the equation,” Branon said. “We feel this application meets the all the criteria for open space residential development.” 

According to the current design plan, the development will be preserving 104 acres of land, with 85 acres in separate house lots and 20 acres in easement. State law includes equestrian land as “agricultural” land,  which is classified as open space. Peterborough zoning regulations adhere to state regulations on open space. 

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Other modifications to the design include space for sidewalks along roadways, a revised trail network and more buffering for surrounding properties. Branon said that the design provides for far more buffer space than is required. 

“This plan does not do the project justice because it is at such a large scale. The closest home to the river is 380 feet away, and the closest home on Monadnock Lane is 330 feet, home to home. There are 600 feet between any homes to the east,” Branon said. 

Lisa Stone, chair of the Planning Board, noted that the proposed design allows the developer to save open space.

“If this were a traditional subdivision – which would also be allowed – they would not have to leave the green space,” Stone said.

Several Planning Board members said they were concerned about the “sprawl” nature of the development, which has 3/4-acre lots for each home. Branon reminded the board that the design follows Peterborough’s zoning requirements. 

“That is not our fault. We are following the town’s requirements,” he said. 

“This just illustrates the devastating results of taking away the Planning Board’s ability to approve 1/4-acre lots,” said Planning Board member Sarah Sternberg Heller said, referring to a 2019 change in Peterborough zoning approved by voters. “It’s frustrating.” 

In the public session, abutters and neighbors expressed repeated concerns about safety in the neighborhood and the environmental impact of horses, including the effects of animal waste on the watershed. Richard MacNamara, a member of the Contoocook River Advisory Board, asked who would be monitoring the runoff from the property.

Darren Janess, an abutter to the property, expressed concerns about the ability of the proposed homeowners’ association at the equestrian village to successfully manage the finances of the property.  Stone stated that the HOA was out of the Planning Board’s purview, and Callahan said that all HOAs are approved by the state. 

“The HOA proposal will be in State of NH attorney general’s office. They are putting tight scrutiny on all these projects, making sure they are funded, looking at consumer protection,” Callahan said. 

Stone said Star Mountain will need to “figure out the land mass,” create a waste-management plan and “work on traffic calming”  before returning to the Planning Board. Town Planner Danica Melone said the town will be recommending a well study for the formal application.