Summerfield residents worry zoning could change the rural town

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SUMMERFIELD, N.C. -- Some people in Summerfield are worried town leaders are going to approve a new way to zone property that could change how their town looks. One group is rallying to “Keep Summerfield Rural.”

A proposed planned development zoning district would allow anyone with more than 75 acres to ask the town to rezone their property.

Elizabeth McClellan is a member of the group called “Keep Summerfield Rural.” She says the group made up of a few dozen people think the proposed rule is too vague.

"Because there are no design guidelines, we don't know what it is going to look like,” McClellan said. “There is really nothing that the town can do to ensure that everything is going to be followed."

Summerfield Town Manager Scott Whitaker agrees that there are no specific rules, but he says the planned development is a new process that would allow the town to be pickier with developer’s plans.

Whitaker says the planned development has a two-step approval process. First, the developers ask to rezone, then they must present a design for the planning director to review, the public can provide input and then the Summerfield Technical Review Committee would have to approve.

"It is a different approach, but ultimately we think it is a fair way to do it,” Whitaker said. “It's just not something the community is accustomed to."

Whitaker says the town is working to give people what they really want, information they know based off a comprehensive plan approved in 2010.

Some community members aren’t so sure about the new process. People are concerned that rezoning could mean more traffic, impact the cost of their homes and strain their resources.

The town council will be able to take action on the planned development ordinance after hearing public comments Thursday night at Summerfield Baptist Church.