11/9/2013 10:51:00 PM Shopping center is not 'limited development'
by Peggy McPartlan Summerfield
It saddens me and creates great anxiety to learn of the Summerfield Zoning Board's recent (recommendation of) approval of 34+ acres to be rezoned to commercial development, combining with an existing 45-commercial zone which creates an area of 79+ acres for commercial development.
For a point of reference for us laypersons, Friendly Center and the Shops at Friendly are 126.5 +/- acres (per owner, CBL & Associates). So, this Summerfield shopping center/business park would be about two-thirds the size of Friendly Center and the Shops at Friendly, combined.
According to digtriad.com, the initial parcel on which Tanger Outlets in Mebane were built was about a 52-acre area of land - more than 1/3 smaller than the new 79+- acre commercial parcel. Also according to digtriad.com, when Tanger Outlet was considering the Mebane parcel, they estimated an additional 4 million people thru the area; I would presume this was within a year, but that sounds too extreme.
If I understand the zoning board, based on our zoning definitions and criteria they might not have had legal grounds to deny the request. The town council, however, is in a position to apply some sanity to this discussion. The council works for us, the citizens of Summerfield, the people who voted them in office, right?
Our town website and several official documents state that "Summerfield is an area of rolling open and wooded countryside, residential neighborhoods, and limited commercial development." I have participated in two different planning committees and have had more than several conversations with Summerfield residents in many different venues. I submit that the majority of Summerfield residents would agree that a 79+-acre shopping center/business park is not "limited commercial development." And, they would likely agree that the additional fire and police support it would need is not how to maintain a "limited-services government," a current attribute of Summerfield that is also noted on our town website.
Summerfield Town Council and residents, I urge you to not sacrifice our vision and beautiful rural town because of temptations of money and power that this commercial development offers.