Now that North Carolina legislators have headed back to Raleigh to decide a lot of important questions concerning the state of North Carolina, one battle that’s noticeably heating up is that of the Town of Summerfield versus farmer and developer David Couch, who appears set on getting the state legislature to allow him to de-annex about 1,000 acres of property he owns so that he can proceed in the way he wants with a proposed large residential and mixed-use development.

Summerfield town leaders are fiercely fighting that move with a lobbyist, a massive PR campaign, and by seeking the help of other local governments and state residents in that fight.

One very strong ally in the battle is another small Guilford County town only 8.5 miles away – the Town of Stokesdale, which, like many small towns, fears the legislature’s approval of de-annexation could set a precedent that leads to a threat of the same thing happening to other cities and towns across the state.

Since that political battle could take place very soon, the town is reaching out to media outlets like the Rhino Times to make sure area and state residents – and state legislators – know where the town stands.

Last month, the Stokesdale Town Council passed a resolution stating its strong opinion and, this week, the town is making that resolution as public as it can.

In an email this week to the Rhino Times, the Stokesdale town clerk stated, “On March 14th, 2024, the Stokesdale Town Council convened to address a matter of significant concern to our community. After thorough deliberation, the Council unanimously approved a statement urging all North Carolina citizens to reach out to their respective legislators and voice opposition to North Carolina House Bill 5.”

The email went on to say, “We kindly request that you share this information with your audience to raise awareness and foster informed discussion on this matter.”

The statement begins, “For over one year Summerfield, NC has been in a battle against de-annexation of nearly 1000 acres of noncontiguous land in the heart of their Town. If this action is taken, it will be the largest de-annexation in NC history.”

It also notes that NC Senator Phil Berger visited the Stokesdale Town Hall on February 20 of this year for a meeting with two members of the Stokesdale Town Council, and, right after that meeting, Berger confirmed his intent to push for a vote on NC House Bill 5, which includes the de-annexation of the land in Summerfield.

The new statement from Stokesdale notes the following …

  • Berger stated this vote will come in the Short Legislative Session, which begins on Wednesday, April 24, and two members of the Summerfield Town Council – as well as citizens of Summerfield – were present during the conversation.
  • The Stokesdale Town Council believes that this de-annexation is “a threat to all small towns throughout NC because of the precedent it would set.”
  • The Stokesdale Town Council adopted a resolution to protect small town autonomy by opposing the Summerfield de-annexation.
  • Stokesdale’s leaders are suggesting that all residents of North Carolina contact their legislators and request that they oppose NC House Bill 5.