There has been a long and involved war going on in Summerfield over plans by farmer and developer David Couch to create a 973-acre residential and mixed-use development – The Villages of Summerfield Farms – in the town of about 11,000 people in northern Guilford County.
On Monday, Sept. 18 – in an attempt to stave off a de-annexation of Couch’s property from the town by the NC General Assembly – the Summerfield Town Council held an emergency meeting. After a nearly two-hour closed session, the councilmembers came out and voted unanimously to give Couch what he’s been asking for from the town for a long time.
Since a vocal faction of Summerfield residents are concerned about more development in the area, there has been a lot of opposition over the past two years to Couch’s proposal.
A rezoning request of the 973 acres was denied in April 2023.
However, at the Sept. 18 meeting, the Town Council voted to support zoning and other changes that will now allow the project to move forward.
About 20 spectators attended the hastily called meeting held in the main room of the Summerfield Community Center. Unlike some prior meetings involving Couch’s proposed development, there were no boos or angry shouts from opponents as the Town Council conducted its business.
Summerfield Mayor Tim Sessoms did most of the talking as the board moved swiftly from one item to another – each vote pledging to give Couch what he’s been asking for, including a special “Open Space Mixed-Use Villages” zoning designation – or OSM-V – and the removal of some scenic corridor restrictions that conflicted with the planned development.
The Town Council pledged to make other zoning moves needed to advance the project as well.
One resolution reads, “NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT: the Town Council on behalf of the Town of Summerfield, North Carolina, pledges a reconsideration of the OSM-V District text amendment and a new consideration of the rezoning of necessary land as presented during the last text amendment case and furthermore pledges support of approval of both steps needed to bring The Villages project to completion as designed.”
The development will need water too, so the Town Council is now all for that as well: “WHEREAS, negotiations have been underway to bring The Villages project to fruition and it is known that public water and sewer will be necessary to serve the project; and, WHEREAS, the water and sewer will need to be provided from a neighboring jurisdiction … NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT: the Town Council on behalf of the Town of Summerfield, North Carolina, pledges advocacy for and facilitation of the efforts for the developer to bring said services to The Villages area.”
The Town Council made the moves in an effort to keep the 973 acres from being de-annexed from Summerfield – something a frustrated Couch had requested of state lawmakers. The vote to de-annex the land is scheduled to move forward this week.
The Summerfield Town Council has scheduled a Thursday, Sept. 28 public hearing and meeting, where the council intends to approve all the needed changes to allow the development provided that those changes are “substantively as presented to the citizens and Council leading up to April 2023, the last public discussion of the project.”