SUMMERFIELD, N.C. (WGHP) — An ongoing debate about a new development in the town of Summerfield is now possibly leading to the piece of land being handed over to the county.
“I’m committed, and I’ll do whatever it takes to bring this wonderful plan to fruition,” said David Couch during an interview with FOX8 back in January.
On Wednesday, Couch got one step closer to that goal. The Senate approved the second reading of a bill that would de-annex the property off of Pleasant Ridge Road that he is looking to develop, meaning Couch would need approval from Guilford County and not the town of Summerfield.
While some people in town think the development would be a good idea, many others say they want Summerfield to remain a quiet and rural place to live.
“It is going to put burdens on infrastructure. It is going to make traffic worse. The dense amount of population close by will affect schools, crime. There is really going to be a big change in Summerfield in the way of life that people have there,” said Justin Wraight, who lives in Summerfield.
Wraight is not alone in his fight to keep Summerfield small. But Couch said earlier this year that the addition is just what the town needs.
“I am confident that I am doing the right thing and I am confident that our area needs diversity in housing, and I’m confident that our area needs availability and affordability,” Couch said.
His proposal is a 973-acre development known as the “Village of Summerfield Farms.” It would consist of 11 villages that are connected by streets and trails. There would be restaurants, hundreds of apartments, commercial opportunities and a grocery store.
The proposal was turned down twice by the town council, and that’s when Couch went to Senator Phil Berger.
“I came to the conclusion that the town of Summerfield made some decisions with reference to zoning that was very exclusionary in terms of some of the things that we need in Guilford County,” Berger said.
According to records from the North Carolina State Board of Elections, Couch has donated more than $11,000 to Senator Berger’s campaign in 2021 and 2022, leaving the people of Summerfield feeling like it’s an unfair fight at the state level.
“It sets a precedent that town councils don’t matter, there is no reason for developers to negotiate, there is no reason for developers to work with the towns. This is just another way to kind of beat the system and get exactly what you want,” Wraight said.
The mayor of Summerfield Tim Sessoms says this would be the largest de-annexation in the state’s history.
Sessoms also sent a statement reading in part: “The Summerfield town council has made every effort since the de-annexation process began to do the right thing. We implore Senator Berger to facilitate a solution before this is irreversible.”
With Wednesday’s approval from the state Senate, the bill will move onto a third and final reading, which is scheduled to happen next week on Sept. 19.
If the de-annexation goes through, the developer will still have to work with Guilford County to get approval before building.