N.C. rep says Summerfield de-annexation would set ‘terrible precedent’

4 weeks ago
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Summerfield’s town boundaries are now in the hands of the N.C. House of Representatives after the N.C. Senate passed a bill removing nearly 1,000 acres of land from the town’s jurisdiction late Monday.

House Bill 909 passed the N.C. Senate by a 34-12 vote. The bill included language de-annexing large tracts of land in Summerfield, along with additional provisions for de-annexations in a few other North Carolina municipalities and other changes for various local governments.

The two Guilford County senators who were present for the vote, Republican Phil Berger and Democrat Gladys Robinson, supported the de-annexation bill. Democratic Sen. Michael Garrett, the only other senator from the county, was not present for the final vote Monday.

Berger, who also serves as the leader of the Senate, has pushed for the de-annexation of land belonging to developer David Couch. Couch has made political contributions to Berger.

Couch has been working for years on a plan to build a mixed-use development which would include 600 apartments and retail. The project has attracted opposition from town officials and residents who believe the development is too large and dense for the town, which has a population of roughly 11,000 people.

Residents and leaders in Summerfield have planned a rally at the state capitol to protest the de-annexation. The rally will take place Wednesday morning, on the same day the bill is scheduled to go before the House.

Since House Bill 909 is a local bill affecting fewer than 15 counties, the governor will not have to act and the measure will become law if the current version is approved by the House.

The opponents of House Bill 909 can count at least one ally in the House: Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Democrat whose district covers much of Greensboro.

“Everything about the proposal is wrong,” Harrison said in an email. “The process: putting the provision in a conference report with no committee review and no opportunity to debate or offer amendments shuts out the public and legislators. Forcing a town to do the bidding of a campaign donor developer is terrible policy.”

She added: “The town has bent over backwards to accommodate the developer who knew what the development constraints were when he purchased the land. It’s a terrible precedent.”

The News & Record reached out to Guilford County’s other five representatives for comment but had not heard back as of Tuesday afternoon.…Read more by KEVIN GRIFFIN Staff Reporter, kevin griffin

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