6/17/2021 3:27:00 PM Development rules revised to allow higher-density housing
by CHRIS BURRITT
SUMMERFIELD - After nearly a decade of deliberations, Summerfield Town Council voted earlier this month to amend development rules to allow for higher density housing.
The 439-page unified development ordinance (UDO) adopted by the council in a 4-to-1 vote has several higher-density provisions proposed by council members Reece Walker and Lynne W. DeVaney that include:
1. Increasing the overall density from 0.73 to 1 unit per acre in all residential zoning districts, allowing for smaller lots;
2. Giving developers a "density bonus" in residential areas offering the option for houses that meet the town's definition of "moderately priced housing;"
3. Reducing the minimum size of lots for quadplexes, defined as a structure with the outward appearance of a single-family home that actually contains four separate dwelling units;
4. Eliminating the requirement that open space in residential developments contain at least 30 percent buildable land;
5. Removing the exclusion of overhead utility easements from land that qualifies as open space.
Adoption of the UDO ended nine years of efforts by town staff and the council, the Zoning Board and a citizens' advisory committee to rewrite regulations governing residential and commercial development in Summerfield.
During the June 8 town council meeting, Walker and DeVaney joined Mayor Pro Tem Tim Sessoms and Councilman John O'Day in voting to adopt the UDO, which goes into effect July 1. Council member Teresa Perryman voted against it.
In a public hearing before the vote, several residents voiced support for and opposition to the revised regulations. Some of the proponents said they back a proposal by developer David Couch to expand Summerfield Farms with a mix of businesses and housing priced from $250,000 to $2 million.
An opponent of higher density, Jared Williams said he and some other Summerfield residents "live here for a reason: we like that there is no overcrowding of our neighborhoods and roads."
"We don't want overcrowded neighborhoods, more traffic lights or busy, wider roads," he said. "If we did, then we would move to Greensboro."
Proponents said relaxing density requirements would encourage development of more affordable housing for first-time homebuyers, middle-income families and seniors wanting to downsize from big houses.
Providing a range of housing options is a goal of Summerfield's comprehensive plan. In April, Town Attorney Bob Hornik said the UDO, as proposed at that time, left Summerfield vulnerable to discrimination lawsuits alleging a lack of affordable housing.
"Many of us want a more inclusive community and we want zoning that provides housing in a variety of price points," homeowner Kevin Kenjarski said. "To have people come up here and say that they can't stay in this community is a real problem."