The Summerfield town planner who has at times been a lightning rod for controversy in that town of 11,000 is no longer employed with Summerfield.
In June, Summerfield Town Planner Chris York was temporarily suspended for “inappropriate” remarks he texted about a citizen and a Summerfield Town Council member. York continued on this summer as the town planner after that suspension. However, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, Summerfield’s website listed the town planner position as “Open” and Town Council members were informed that York was no longer working for Summerfield.
York’s suspension earlier this summer for texts he sent came after a similar incident in 2020.
Last year, York had his certification suspended from the American Planning Association’s professional institute – the main professional certification agency for the planning profession. Top-level local government planners are expected to have that certification.
That ruling against York resulted from a February 2020 incident when a town employee – one without a handicap – parked in a handicapped spot at the Summerfield Community Center where the Town Council was meeting. York went onto Facebook to attack the politically active town resident who posted a picture of the car in the handicapped parking place.
Don Wendelken – a former Guilford County Board of Election member who runs the Summerfield Scoop Facebook page and also publishes a town newspaper – had posted the photo.
Among other comments that York put up online under the alias “Bobby Christopher,” York called Wendelken a “stalker” and used profanity.
Wendelken filed a complaint against York in 2020 and that got York in hot water with the certification agency.
Aside from the texting and social media incidents, York – as the Summerfield town planner – found himself frequently at the center of the ongoing political battle over the best course for development in the town. There are basically two factions in Summerfield – those who are worried that brisk development will ruin the small-town charm and those who welcome more development and who say Summerfield is moving too slowly in that regard.
Much of the town’s history over the last five years has been determined by the constant warring of those two factions. York was seen by some as being friendly with the pro-development forces and now some in Summerfield in the other camp are pleased he’s no longer the top planner.
The June 2021 texts from York were described as abrasive and derogatory by some who saw them – and York was suspended for one week in early July. The email sent at that time to justify the suspension stated the suspension was due to “recent communication with a citizen about town business that was inappropriate given his position.”