A Chapel Hill man has taken one of the world’s hardest jobs – Summerfield town attorney – and he’s even gotten his son to play a role as well.
Summerfield, which will have a new mayor soon – former Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes – will also be getting the new town attorney, starting Monday, Nov. 18.
Long-time Summerfield Town Attorney Bill Hill – who’s found himself in the middle of some extremely heated legal, political and personal battles in the town – announced on Wednesday, May 1 that he was stepping down. However, he said at that time that he would stay on until a new town attorney was hired. This week, the Summerfield Town Council voted to contract with attorney Robert E. Hornik, Jr., with The Brough Law Firm LLC in Chapel Hill, to provide all legal services to the town.
“If Mr. Hornik is not available,” Dunham wrote in an email, “his son, Kevin Hornik, will represent the town.”
The reason the job is difficult is that the town is bitterly divided over issues such as development, municipal water and the treatment of former Summerfield Town Councilmember Todd Rotruck. Some of the town meetings in the last few years have been shoutfests with one closed session even resulting in assault charges being filed by one councilmember against another. Barnes has promised to help “restore civility” to the town government.
This week, the Town Council thanked Hill for his services.
According to Dunham, the Summerfield Town Council originally had three criteria for filling the position: “municipal law experience, land use legal experience and 30 minutes from town hall.”
The council, however, later agreed to a one-hour commute distance from town hall.
Council voted to contract with Hornik through Dec. 31, 2020.
Summerfield Town Councilmember Teresa Pegram voted no, arguing that the town should have stayed with the 30-minute maximum commute.
The outgoing mayor also had her concerns.
“The Brough group is fine,” Dunham stated, “however, I know that we have excellent attorneys locally in Greensboro and Winston-Salem who know the area and could better serve the town.”
Dunham did not get to cast a no vote: The Summerfield mayor only gets to vote in the case of a tie.
According to Hornik’s bio, he “received his Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, in Political Science from LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York, and his law degree from The Washington & Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia. Before becoming a principal in the Brough Law Firm, he engaged in the private practice of law in Syracuse, New York, representing local governments and real estate developers.”
Hornik currently serves as general counsel to the towns of Hillsborough, Hoffman, Pinebluff, and Stem as well, and he has worked extensively in land-use and annexation matters.