We generally don’t mess with Summerfield, that lily-white town of 11,000 or so that sits atop the northwest corner of Greensboro like a jaunty little cap. Like Archdale, Clemmons, Walkertown, Jamestown and other smaller Triad municipalities, it exists beyond our purview of the large cities. And though these areas are screaming out for more media coverage, we simply don’t have the staff to keep up in a meaningful way.
But we turn our gaze there this week as developer David Couch finalizes his years-long quest to develop nearly 1,000 acres inside Summerfield town limits — Summerfield, understand, has strict regulations about real estate development and land use. People don’t move out there to share space with high-density living.
Time and again, Summerfield Town Council turned down Couch’s rezoning request necessary to implement his plan: the Villages of Summerfield Farms, a high-dollar, mixed-use cluster of neighborhoods, shops and parks free from the pesky affordability requirements of, say, Greensboro. Homes would run between $250K and $2 million, according to the website
Couch would not abide by council’s decision. He went over their heads, enlisting the North Carolina Legislature to take up his cause.
The ploy began with a raft of campaign contributions Couch made to NC Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger — around $27,000 since 2018. In due turn, a bill was filed that would help Couch’s dream become manifest: HB5, which de-annexes Couch’s plot from the town of Summerfield, and bars the town from annexing it again. It passed the House and Senate, and needs to pass one more Senate reading on Thursday before it heads to the governor’s desk.
That probably won’t happen, because in an emergency meeting on Monday night, Summerfield Town Council passed three resolutions in a “good-faith” effort towards Couch that include reconsidering rezoning, something the council last denied in April, according to the News & Record. The council scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 28 to discuss next steps.
The case provides a rare glimpse into how the sausage gets made, a primer for running the end-around against local government and an overall lesson in why things are the way they are: Money and leverage.
As for the Villages of Summerfield Farms, aside from its messed-up genesis, we think it’s probably a pretty good idea. Too much nothing out in Summerfield. Makes folks feel detached from one another.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this editorial mistakenly conflated HB5 with another bill, HB451, mischaracterized the purpose of the bill and its effects, and levied false accusations against two members of the NC Legislature. That section has been removed from the piece. Since it was written, Summerfield Town Council held an emergency meeting and ultimately supported zoning changes that would allow for Couch’s project. The editorial has been edited to reflect that reality. Triad City Beat regrets the error.
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