There’s a good chance that the Town of Summerfield might have 1,000 acres of the town removed from it by the North Carolina General Assembly.

About two weeks ago, the entire staff of the town turned in their resignations after feeling mistreated by a majority of the Town Council and also in the wake of staff’s disapproval of the way the council terminated now lame duck Town Manager Scott Whitaker.

The town residents are badly divided over the degree of development that should take place in Summerfield.

Town councilmembers are picking up trash and keeping restrooms clean at some town facilities.

The NAACP has filed a civil rights complaint against the town for unfair housing practices.

A much-anticipated mid-June fishing derby for kids just got canceled because the town has no one to run it.

And, as for the possibility of the state taking away the town’s charter, it is “part of the conversation” one state legislator told the Rhino Times this week.

That’s where Summerfield stands today, and Mayor Tim Sessoms, who loves the town and has for a long time, said on Wednesday, June 5, that he’s absolutely devastated by what has happened to the town due to the actions of the four councilmembers who, he says, mistreated town staff and led Summerfield to this edge of a cliff by their irresponsible actions.

Sessoms said that, for years, the citizens of the town and the town’s leaders had worked very hard to make it a great place to live but that the current majority on the Town Council threatens the very existence of Summerfield.

“I’m heartbroken for our town,” the mayor said.

He added, “Please quote me on this: Summerfield is a premiere town in the state of North Carolina.  It may be the best town in North Carolina –  but what they have done is ripping it all apart.”

The mayor said it’s unbelievable the way that the town of 11,000 has grown and prospered over the years and now has a capital fund of $7 million.

“The town has one of the lowest tax rates and some of the nicest amenities you can find anywhere,” the mayor said, pointing to the new Farms Park as one example.

The mayor doesn’t get a vote on town matters except in the case of a tie, and, since four of five council members wanted Whitaker gone, and, according to Sessoms, drove the entire staff away as well, there was nothing he could do about it.

The mayor said that much of the time he doesn’t even know what the four councilmembers are planning next.

Sessoms also said he intends to resign as mayor but he hasn’t decided when yet.

“I don’t want to resign, but to be the master of ceremonies over this Ringling  Brothers circus is pointless when I can’t do anything about it,” he said. “I’m growing weary.”

There’s a lot of emotion in his voice when he talks about the current plight of the town.

“I have great respect for all of our citizens who have made an attempt to compromise,” Sessoms said.

Much of the current fallout is over a disagreement as to whether farmer and developer David Couch should be allowed to build a 1,000-acre residential and mixed-use development the way he would like. Sessoms said that, for years, he was “at the head of the table” when it came to opposing the development as proposed; however, he added, when it became apparent that the state legislature might honor Couch’s request to take 1,000 acres away from the town and let Couch have the development with the density he wanted, it became clear that compromise was necessary.

He said that if the council had worked with Couch and allowed development while protecting the water and septic systems, it could have maintained some control over how things took place – and the town could have worked through its troubles with everyone offering some give and take.

“That would have been a better path,” Sessoms said.

He added that it is very tiring to see the recurring pattern in recent years.

“It’s been an endless cycle of, every 12 to 24 months, this bomb going off,” he said.

He added the reason that councilmembers were now having to go around picking up trash is because they mistreated what was an excellent staff. He said that the four councilmembers now in charge should have been respectful to the staff for the great job they were doing, but instead they were abrasive towards staff.

“They didn’t have the forethought to do that,” he said of treating the staff well.

Sessoms was highly critical of a public statement sent out by Summerfield Town Councilmember Jonathan Hamilton, who said he sees this as a chance for the town to start fresh and finally get the small town on the right track.

Hamilton’s statement read in part: “While I believe the resignations were at least in part politically motivated, I see this as a great opportunity for Summerfield. With our current town manager’s contract ending soon, we will be able to hire a new town manager that can start fresh. This transition will allow that manager to carefully assemble a dedicated team committed to serving Summerfield, while also forming a cohesive staff that is essential for effective governance. I believe this is going to position our town for success.”

Hamilton’s statement also said, “We have such a wonderful and supportive community here in Summerfield. I’ve already had multiple citizens volunteer to step in as we move forward, and I am confident that our town won’t miss a beat.”

Sessoms said he wonders if Hamilton still believes that, given the situation Summerfield is in today.

“He said we won’t miss a beat,” the mayor said.  “The reason councilmembers are collecting trash is because they imposed on the town staff.  Ask them if we’re missing a beat now.”

Sessoms said it was also sad that the town had to cancel the Children’s Fishing Derby that was scheduled for Saturday, June 17.  He said the event had been growing every year and it was a wonderful and popular event that many people were greatly looking forward to.