3/18/2021 4:46:00 PM Town mulls recouping Summerfield Farms Village expenses
by CHRIS BURRITT
SUMMERFIELD - Summerfield leaders are considering whether to seek money from developer David Couch to recoup the town's expenses for exploring the expansion of Summerfield Farms.
Couch has proposed creating a special tax district and negotiating a development agreement with the town as part of his plans for Summerfield Farms Village. The 650-acre mix of houses and businesses would require the collaboration of the town of Summerfield, the city of Greensboro and Guilford County in extending water and sewer services from Greensboro to Summerfield Farms.
"The project is still being explored and the town is absorbing costs, although the project has not been submitted formally to the town," Town Manager Scott Whitaker wrote in a memo for the Town Council's meeting last Tuesday, March 9.
Whitaker raised the possibility of the town reaching an agreement with the developer to deposit money into an account for the reimbursement of the town's planning, legal and other expenses related to Summerfield Farms Village.
Such an agreement would ensure that "we're not eating that money for a project that may or may not come to fruition," the manager said.
Tom Terrell, a lawyer representing Couch, said in an email this week that Summerfield Farms representatives haven't seen the town's proposed agreement, but added that "we are willing to work with the town to defray reasonable costs."
Last September, Couch, chief executive officer of Blue Ridge Cos., unveiled plans for expanding Summerfield Farms on Pleasant Ridge Road. He said he wants to negotiate a development agreement with the council to develop the project, while creating a special tax district that would charge only property owners in his development - not other Summerfield taxpayers - for water and sewer services.
Whitaker described Couch's proposal as "an example of a complex development project" that may require Summerfield to hire specialized consultants or legal help to negotiate on the town's behalf.
At present, Whitaker said, the town has "no mechanism that allows the collection of sufficient planning fees to offset the town's exploratory costs. A developer typically deposits a specified amount to cover exploratory expenses, and agreements sometimes contain a provision requiring additional deposits when the balance gets down to a pre-determined threshold."
The council voted 4-1 last week to defer discussion of the topic until its next monthly meeting April 13. Council member Reece Walker voted nay, saying he'd prefer to address the issue right then since the town is continually incurring expenses related to Summerfield Farms Village.