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Summerfield holds promise of historic charm
By Bob Lassahn

This is the second of two articles by The Courier regarding a proposed development called Summerfield based upon an interview with developer Mark Odachowski.

Last week’s edition of The Courier explored the man and the vision behind Summerfield, a proposed development totaling about 1,000 acres with 2,170 homes adjacent to the town of Snow Hill and under consideration for annexation by the town. Knowing a little about Mark Odachowski, the visionary and driving force behind the project, is essential to understanding how something of this magnitude has come into existence. He is young, passionate and expresses a deeply rooted affinity for both the town of Snow Hill and the people. All of these are likely essential ingredients to tackling a project of near record proportions in size for the Eastern Shore and in the intense attention to detail Summerfield will embody.

According to Mr. Odachowski’s depiction Summerfield is not intended to simply become a housing development tacked on to the existing town in some haphazard fashion. It is designed to be an extension of the town, blending in with what currently exists and maintaining the historic charm of the Worcester County seat. The project will contain three “walkable” neighborhoods designed in a traditional fashion and mixing single family with multifamily homes. Areas with storefronts and office space with the downtown flair of attached buildings or “row homes” are also envisioned.

All neighborhoods will have sidewalks, street lighting, walking paths, parks and recreational areas. Canals, some navigable by human powered watercraft, will meander through the area. All services such as electrical equipment and trash collection, along with garages and parking pads will be accessible from the rear of the homes. Multifamily dwellings would emulate single-family homes in their design and blend architecturally with the surroundings.

A large lake is strategically placed and bears the name Lake Odachowski, the developer’s only concession to the use of his name attached to a feature within the project. Mr. Odachowski quips, “If Florida can have Lake Okeechobee then Summerfield can have Lake Odachowski.” The lake will have a boardwalk with an “inn” and will serve as a recreational area with fishing, paddleboats and picnics. Other amenities proposed for the project include a village style shopping area, health care center, movie theater, bowling alley and a grocery store.

Everything about Summerfield at Snow Hill sounds wonderful and the artist renderings depict beautiful, tranquil scenes. Mr. Odachowski has been granted requisite approvals on the county level and appears very confident that the question of annexation will move successfully through the process. He is keeping up a strong marketing campaign with Snow Hill residents attempting to further strengthen his position.

But not all of Mr. Odachowski’s dealings with officialdom have gone smoothly. There have been issues, albeit minor compared to the overall project, that have drawn some criticism including road design and parking configuration. In the overall scheme of things it would be suspicious if these little clashes did not exist. But is there a more substantial level of opposition to the project than appears on the surface?

During some of the hearings seeking requisite county actions to move the project forward Commissioner Virgil Shockley has apparently held reservations about Summerfield. He has not been an obvious and outspoken opponent, except perhaps on the issue of modification to the Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan when he staunchly stood behind exclusion of Castle Hill residents from the service area.

Mr. Shockley declined an interview regarding his position and in conversation simply expressed the belief that he should reserve comment until the question of annexation is resolved. He says it is up to the people of Snow Hill to accept or reject annexation of Summerfield. He did comment that in his opinion there might be more resistance than Mr. Odachowski currently anticipates and believes there could exist sufficient opposition to force the issue to a referendum. Although that does not necessarily mean annexation would fail, the process would become more intense and the outcome uncertain.

From Mr. Odachowski’s perspective Summerfield could become a reality even if annexation is rejected, although it would significantly alter some of the dynamics. If it does not become a part of Snow Hill, the project literally goes back to square one regarding county approvals received to date, since they are virtually all contingent upon successful annexation. On this Mr. Shockley commented, “Then it becomes a very different issue.”

Many of the questions surrounding Summerfield at Snow Hill could soon be answered. If it does move forward it should prove to be an impressive project to observe as the various phases of development move into place.

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Uploaded: 8/23/2005