At town hall, local reps say Hideout should delay annexation until after legislative session
About 75 people gathered on a grassy hillside Tuesday evening in a subdivision just north of Hideout to hear local elected officials discuss that town’s plan to annex hundreds of acres just on the other side of the hill behind them.
The crowd appeared uniformly opposed to the town’s plan to annex the 655 acres of rolling hills and rangeland, which are in Summit County, and allow developers Nate Brockbank and Josh Romney to build a mixed-use development with residences and businesses.
State Rep. Tim Quinn, R-Heber, was the first of the officials to speak, followed by representatives from Park City and Wasatch County.
Wasatch County Councilor Kendall Crittenden told the crowd that county has not taken an official position on the annexation, but he joined Quinn and Park City Councilor Max Doilney in expressing their desire that Hideout officials to delay action on the annexation proposal until after a special session of the state Legislature anticipated to begin Aug. 20.
It is widely anticipated the Legislature will revisit the new law that allows for the Wasatch County town to annex the land without Summit County’s permission. A judge has barred the town from annexing the land until a hearing set for Monday.
Hideout officials were not present at the town hall, leading one attendee to ask why the town wasn’t there to defend itself. Event organizer Jeff Sterling, president of a nearby homeowners association, read a statement posted to the town’s website that explained the town’s contention that commercial services are needed in the area around the Jordanelle Reservoir where the population is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years.
After previously committing to attending, Hideout Mayor Phil Rubin has said that town officials withdrew to avoid the appearance that the event was an official public meeting.
Officials from Summit County were also invited, but declined to attend. Sterling represented the county’s position by reading portions of its two court filings seeking to prevent Hideout’s move.
The county staunchly opposes the annexation and has sued Hideout in an attempt to prevent it. A key court hearing on the matter, scheduled for Monday, will determine whether the town can continue the annexation process. It has scheduled public hearings Wednesday and Aug. 18, after which it may annex the land, should it prevail at the Aug. 10 court hearing.
The crowd, sitting in lawn chairs and maintaining space between groups, listened patiently as Sterling’s amplified voice carried across the park and the sun descended toward the top of the hill.
When Sterling asked for a show of hands from those who opposed the annexation maneuver, nearly everyone in the crowd responded, while no hands were raised in support of the annexation.
The most enthusiastic applause of the night, which was relatively restrained, came at the mention of a judge’s ruling this week temporarily halting the annexation plan.
Crittenden engaged in the longest back-and-forth with the audience, a conversation that ranged from traffic concerns to gun rights to when the county would change its future plans for commercial centers after Hideout years ago turned a planned commercial site into homes. He said that Wasatch County hopes that Hideout will give the Legislature time to do its due diligence, alluding, it seemed, to the prospect of Hideout delaying a vote on the annexation until after the special session.
Doilney said Park City supported Summit County’s efforts to prevent the annexation, called the process “completely flawed” and said Park City had no interest in “backroom shenanigans.”
Quinn said that if the town sincerely wanted to be a good neighbor, it should delay the annexation vote. He was the only member of the state House of Representatives to vote against the law that allows the annexation, though for reasons unrelated to Hideout, and he has said the legislation needs to be repealed.
Many of the attendees appeared to live in the housing developments tucked into the east side of the hill that separates Richardson Flat from S.R. 248, across that highway and just south of Brown’s Canyon Road. Several arrived on foot or by bicycle, and more than a few small children and dogs joined the crowd.
JT Olio lives in The Retreat at Jordanelle with his wife and small child. He said disagrees with the way Hideout is pursuing the annexation but has mixed feelings about development on the land.
Open space is nice, he said, but it would also be convenient to have a grocery store nearby.
Laurie Garland and Nikki Keye remained after most others had left, chatting on the hillside.
Garland said she attended to learn more about the project and Keye said she appreciated that elected officials attended.
Garland said she thought most everyone had their mind already made up about the proposal and that it wasn’t a good idea. Gesturing to her right, down the hill toward Hideout’s present location, and then back to the north and west, she said it wasn’t logical for Hideout to jump over their neighborhood.
“Hopscotching over other people’s land doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.
Both thought that having more businesses in the area would be beneficial — “I did go to Trader Joe’s today,” Keye said, laughing — but the women thought that businesses might develop in the area in the coming years.
Keye said that parcels of land nearby planned for commercial uses might soon be built out and that a gas station and grocery store would be well received.
She added that preserving open space was a value most residents shared.
A strange noise interrupted the conversation as two sandhill cranes took off from a wetland nearby and flew low in the newly darkened air, away from the land in question.
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In a new court filing, Summit County says Hideout should be held in contempt of court for violating previous court orders, referring to the town’s actions as “sinister,” “machinations,” and as “wolves in sheeps’ clothing.”