The Summerfield Town Council is holding its annual retreat on Saturday, Feb. 1 and new Summerfield Mayor BJ Barnes said he wants the council to address some longstanding controversial issues head on – including the rules regarding development, the need for a limited water system for firefighting and the need for a new town meeting space.
Barnes said this week that he’s asked the other town councilmembers to send him a list of the issues they want to see dealt with at the retreat and he revealed the three issues that top his own list. He said several questions have been lingering for a long time in Summerfield and he’d like to see the discussion at the yearly retreat used to get some direction on those issues. For better or worse, Barnes’ three topics are three of the most controversial ones in that town.
The first thing on the new mayor’s list is the town’s Unified Development Ordinance, the “UDO,” which will guide future development in the town once it’s adopted.
“We’ve had a diversified group working on it a long time,” Barnes said, adding that it’s now time to finalize a development ordinance so property owners will know what they can and can’t do with their property.
“You can always get variances,” Barnes said, but he added that those will generally be “few and far between.”
Another item he wants to address is the town’s water system needs for fire safety.
“We’ve got one of the best fire departments in the state but they need water available,” he said, adding that it takes three firefighters to draw water out of a pond or other water source. He said that requires valuable manpower that could be spent fighting a fire instead.
The third item on Barnes’ list is no less controversial.
“We need a meeting space,” Barnes said.
Currently, most of the meetings are held at the Summerfield Community Center and staff must set up folding chairs and tables every time there’s a meeting. Barnes argues that the town needs something permanent.
“I’d like something akin to what Oak Ridge and Stokesdale have,” Barnes said.