Equestrian center Rocky Top Ranch in Keller appears to be staying, as a buyer was found for the property, Keller City Council heard at its Sept. 19 meeting.

Rachel Reynolds, communication and public engagement manager for the city of Keller, said city officials don't have details of the business sale, but the owners, who include Taylor Dent, sold the property to David DeJesus. Last month, several people, including people who use the horse center, attended the Aug. 15 council meeting to air their support for the center remaining open. Dent said at the time he was open to selling the property.

The details

At the Sept. 18 meeting, council approved an ordinance for a planned development amendment and rezoning a portion to single-family residential 36,000-square-foot lots, or SF-36, for The Birch Racquet and Lawn Club, located on 26.99 acres and situated near the intersection of Keller Smithfield Road and Johnson Road. The horse center rests on the property.

Council approved a planned development for The Birch in 2016 and amendment to the planned development the next year, said Sarah Hensley, director of community development for the city.

“The applicant is now coming forward with a request to reduce the size of the tennis facility [planned development] from its almost 27 acres to approximately 14.24 acres for the Birch Tennis facility and then have the remaining acres rezoned to SF-36,” Hensley told council.

Hensley discussed changes from the approved planned development in 2017 by council to proposed changes now, such as the reduction in the number of outdoor courts—from 35 to 15. The proposed development included dormitories and family lodging, but the new proposal does not feature either.

Dent told council his understanding is that the owner of the Rocky Top land would retain the property’s use, as it would be intended to be a “world-class equestrian facility.”


At the Aug. 15 meeting, attendees heard that Dent, owner of The Birch Racquet and Lawn Club, wanted to reduce the size of the planned development from 26.99 acres to 15.05 acres for the Birch tennis facility with the remaining 11.94 acres proposed for single-family residential development. The remaining 11.94 acres would no longer be a part of the planned development and were intended to be developed as a 14-lot single-family residential subdivision under SF-36 zoning guidelines.

Council did not approve an amendment for the planned development at that meeting, as it needed a 6-1 vote but received a 5-2 vote for approval, so the measure failed. A residential development would have displaced the horse center. Dent said at the meeting that his company had tried hard to make Rocky Top work, but he was losing money from the operation, which has 37 horses on property from several different owners. Dent did not respond to Community Impact messages about the ownership and operations of Rocky Top.

Four people spoke during a Sept. 18 public hearing for the amendment, with each person supporting the proposed planned development.

Council Member Tag Green said he was pleased that the issue was settled and that something representing the “character of Keller,” which is shared by the majority of people, would be preserved.