Consider a couple of recent stories regarding the city of Greensboro.
During a city council meeting last night, some speakers spoke in favor of the firefighter who was recently fired because of politically incorrect Facebook posts. Members of the Communist Party turned out for the meeting and called his supporters “fascist”. Other opponents of the firefighter chanted, “F___ you, Fascist”.
In addition, the Rhino Times reports that Greensboro’s city manager wants to increase spending by $170 million over two years; and also wants to increase property taxes by approximately 6% for the next year. This would be in addition to the numerous tax, fee and spending increases we have had in the past.
These are just a couple of examples within the last several days of the myriad reasons that have materialized over the years leading people to want to stay away from Greensboro.
More than twenty years ago, residents of outlying towns had the foresight to incorporate in order to protect against the city of Greensboro annexing them. At that time, cities like Greensboro had enormous freedom to annex surrounding areas under state law. The folks who made this happen recognized what Greensboro was becoming– an extreme left jurisdiction with taxation levels that were quite high for this region. They probably also did not want Greensboro’s sprawl and traffic congestion and crime to affect them.
They created self-governing communities that would assure they could manage the character of their surroundings.
Let’s fast forward to 2023 and the proposal to build multi-family housing in Summerfield advanced by developer David Couch.
A recent article discussed this matter in greater detail. In this article, we learn regarding Mr. Couch that:
- He bought a farm in Summerfield in 1998, but is originally from Asheboro;
- He has other residences in Nashville, and also in Montana where he has a large ranch;
- He owns 41 apartment complexes and has built other subdivisions;
- He has donated $27,000 to Senator Phil Berger over a period of five years; and
- He has given large sums of money to schools and various non-profits, and this has led to various facilities at these institutions bearing his name.
Interestingly, the issues of “affordable housing” and “Fair Housing” have been raised in connection with his proposal. The race card has been played. I wonder to what extent Couch has been the originator of these canards.
Here is the clincher. Would he be willing to proceed with this development if he were not going to be making large amounts of money by doing so? Without the enormous profits, all those lofty aspirations for affordable housing and Fair Housing, and all the racial considerations, suddenly go away. It is pretty clear to me that Couch is using these issues to make loads of money.
The implied threat of intervention by the federal government over Fair Housing standards based on race is even being floated. It is downright evil to use this to intimidate Summerfield’s leaders and residents.
One would think that owning 41 apartment complexes would be enough for one man. But it is not if greed is the motivator.
David Couch acquired his land in Summerfield knowing quite well what the zoning restrictions were. As a developer, he is going to be extremely attentive to the ground rules. It is disingenuous to use these other considerations to justify his proposal.
His latest strategy is to get the North Carolina General Assembly to “de-annex” his land into the city of Greensboro. Senator Berger, of course, is a key player there.
A couple of weeks ago, the “crossover deadline” passed. All legislation to be considered must have passed in one house of the legislature in order to be voted upon by the other house. I am not aware that any bill to “de-annex” Couch’s land has passed either house. That would ordinarily mean it will not be considered during this legislative session.
Of course, it might be possible for leaders to slam through the de-annexation by amending another bill or by enacting some kind of rule change.
Summerfield consists of long-term residents who have a family legacy in the area. Some of them might not be particularly wealthy. There are also many folks who moved there more recently especially in the various subdivisions that have arisen. These folks were seeking what Summerfield has to offer, and are often upper middle class. Some of them were attempting to escape the types of circumstances I described above regarding Greensboro. The attempt to portray these folks as uniformly wealthy or as racist is profoundly wrongful. These are people who don’t want dense development; and that is often why they chose to live where they did.
Black people are free to purchase homes and real estate in Summerfield. There are plenty of black people who have the funds to do so.
It also should be noted that progressive Greensboro residents have strenuously fought over the years to oppose zoning changes that would change the character of their neighborhoods.
The politicians are talking about the need for housing; and in fact, multifamily housing is warranted in places like Greensboro. I am sympathetic with the need for affordable housing and less onerous zoning restrictions. But it is wrong to set in motion a push to change the very character of a special place like Summerfield in order to enjoy huge profits. Put this type of thing where it is more consistent with other development.
Couch himself could contribute to “affordable housing” by reducing the rent charged at the 41 apartment complexes he owns.
My understanding is that both the towns of Oak Ridge and Stokesdale have passed resolutions opposing Couch’s proposal in Summerfield. The people in these areas see the handwriting on the wall that the usual forces will try to ruin what they have also.
Some might be tempted to call Mr. Couch a scoundrel. There might be temporal glory associated with all the plaudits associated with “named facilities” at area universities and non-profits; but these are oft in return for philanthropic donations that perhaps help to assuage a guilty conscience.
“Doing unto others” does not include sticking it to your Summerfield neighbors.