Wednesday, Sept. 13, the North Carolina Senate passed House Bill 5, which includes the de-annexation of close to a thousand acres from the Town of Summerfield.

Several years ago, developer and Summerfield resident David Couch proposed a mixed-use development on 973 acres he owns in Summerfield, and he has been battling with the town for approval of his development plans for years. This year Couch gave up on getting cooperation from Summerfield for his development plans and requested that the North Carolina legislature de-annex his land.

The bill still has one more vote in the Senate and then has to go back to the state House for passage.

On Monday, Sept 11, President Pro Tem of the Senate Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), who represents the Summerfield area, sent a letter to Summerfield Mayor Tim Sessoms informing Sessoms that he would be supporting the bill to de-annex Couch’s land from the Town of Summerfield and going into some detail about his reasons for that support.

While many in Summerfield have expressed outrage over having their town “cut in half” by this de-annexation, there is more to the de-annexation bill than simply removing the 973 acres from the Summerfield corporate limits.

The property to be de-annexed is described in Section 8.(a) of House Bill 5, and Section 8.(c), which states, “Property in subsection (a) of this section shall not be subject to any existing or future joint annexation agreement entered into between the Town of Summerfield and the City of Greensboro and shall not be subject to the extraterritorial powers of any municipality.”

Summerfield and Greensboro have a joint annexation agreement that would mean that even though Couch’s land was no longer in Summerfield it couldn’t be annexed by Greensboro.

This section making the 973 acres not subject to the joint annexation agreement between Summerfield and Greensboro opens up the possibility of the land being annexed by Greensboro. According to the current annexation laws in the state, Couch would have to request that his land be annexed by Greensboro and the Greensboro City Council would have to be convinced that adding the proposed mixed-use development would benefit the city.

In 2020, Couch met with City of Greensboro officials to discuss extending water and sewer lines to his property in Summerfield.  At the time, City Manager David Parrish said that the City of Greensboro had no intention of spending tax dollars to extend water and sewer lines outside the city for a residential development.

House Bill 5 changes that dynamic considerably, since it opens the possibility of the land being annexed by Greensboro, and the city regularly extends water and sewer service to residential developments that have been annexed.