The Thursday, Oct. 5 meeting of the Summerfield Town Council isn’t labeled as an “Emergency” meeting, but in a way it is.
The purpose of the meeting is for the Town Council to make enough concessions fast enough to entice farmer and developer David Couch to drop his effort to de-annex his property from the town and instead pursue the development of his land while it remains in Summerfield.
It’s anyone’s guess whether the moves anticipated by the Town Council will be too little too late – and whether they will be enough to convince Couch to drop the effort he is undertaking at the state level to remove the land from the town.
Over the last two years, there’s been a lot of controversy in Summerfield over Couch’s plans to create a 973-acre residential and mixed-use development called The Villages of Summerfield. Couch felt so stifled by resistance earlier this year that he requested that state lawmakers de-annex the property and move it to unincorporated Guilford County, where Couch would presumably have an easier time of it.
That happened after the Town Council rejected a rezoning request by Couch in April.
On Monday, Sept. 18 – as state lawmakers were about to decide the issue – in an attempt to stave off that de-annexation the Summerfield Town Council held what was in fact an emergency meeting. After a nearly two-hour closed session, councilmembers voted unanimously to give Couch what he’s been asking for from the town for a long time.
Since all the technical zoning and regulatory aspects of the changes couldn’t be made at that emergency meeting, the Town Council scheduled this meeting for October 5 – a meeting with an agenda full of almost everything Couch had previously requested.
The meeting is a rare special two-in-one affair of both the Town Council and the Summerfield Planning Board in order to get things approved as quickly as possible.
The proposed changes include, among other things, a special “Open Space Mixed-Use Villages” zoning designation and the removal of scenic corridor restrictions that conflicted with the planned development.
Still, it’s not clear if this will be enough to keep Couch from attempting to de-annex the property. Couch may not trust the Town Council to remain compliant in the future. Also, even if he does, an upcoming election could drastically alter the nature of the current Summerfield Town Council.
The October 5 meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Summerfield Christian Life Center at 2300 Scalesville Road.