The question of how to handle a major mixed-use development in Summerfield proposed by David Couch, the owner of Summerfield Farms, has been a topic of debate in Summerfield for several years.
It now appears that the decision on if that development will move forward will be taken out of the hands of the Summerfield Town Council.
On Monday, Sept. 11, President Pro Tem of the state Sen. Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) sent a letter to Summerfield Mayor Tim Sessoms informing Sessoms that Berger would be supporting legislation to de-annex the 973 acres Couch owns from the Town of Summerfield.
Berger in the letter states, “As a legislator elected to represent Senate District 26, which includes Summerfield and much of northwestern Guilford County, I have a responsibility to step in when a local unit of government fails to take obvious and reasonable steps in the public interest, including creation of an environment conducive to addressing needs for housing and essential services for its citizens. The General Assembly has a vested interest in ensuring that the communities we represent are acting in the best interests of its citizens and the state. This action by the General Assembly is a necessary, appropriate, and reasonable step that must be taken.”
Much of Berger’s letter focuses on the lack of water and sewer service in Summerfield. Berger states, “Of particular concern is the fact that land use policies have hindered – some would say prevented – development of needed supplies of water and the necessary systems to treat wastewater. The Town of Summerfield is home to the largest population of North Carolina citizens reliant on septic tanks for sewage. An adverse public health event becomes more likely with each passing year. The absence of a public water supply for fire protection in Summerfield and northwestern Guilford County is an even more concerning present problem.”
Berger also notes that the Summerfield land use policies are not conducive to a mix of housing options. Berger states, “Without question, Summerfield’s housing and land use policies are among the most restrictive enacted by a municipality in North Carolina. Guilford Count’s growth presents an urgent public need for additional housing options so the nurses, teachers, first responders, and construction workers the Triad relies on can live in the communities they serve. Zoning practices codified in the Town’s ordinances exacerbate rather than ameliorate the current housing crunch.”
When Couch hit a roadblock with the Summerfield Town Council on proceeding with the mixed-use development he proposed, he requested that the legislature de-annex his land from the Town of Summerfield. With the letter from Berger, it appears that is what the legislature plans to do.