Bill allowing Hideout’s annexation bid repealed by Legislature
Six weeks to the day after Hideout announced its intent to annex hundreds of acres of land in Summit County, the state Legislature on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to repeal the legislation that allowed such a move.
It seemingly puts an end, at least for now, to either the specter of massive development on Park City’s eastern portal — as Summit County and Park City describe it — or the bid to provide much-needed commercial services to a booming population base around the Jordanelle Reservoir that lacks convenient access to a grocery store or gas station, which is the town’s framing of the issue.
The bill passed the House 65-10, with Speaker of the House Brad Wilson in dissent. In the Senate, only Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, voted no.
Summit County Manager Tom Fisher cautioned that the bill does not become law for 60 days and that it is only one step in the process of preventing the annexation from ever taking place. A 4th District Court judge is expected to rule Sept. 3 on a lawsuit between the county and Hideout that could prevent the town from moving to annex the land.
The town’s plans to annex the land were derailed by an ill-fated Zoom public hearing, shortly after which the town repealed a resolution that was required to annex the land, signaling an end to at least this version of the attempt. Town councilors have said they would look to the Legislature for guidance about whether to proceed and would not pursue an unlawful annexation.
On July 9, Hideout became the first municipality in Utah history to attempt to annex land from a neighboring county without that county’s consent under laws that were passed earlier in 2020. Before then, such an act would have required support from the neighboring county, support that Summit County said in 2019 it would not provide to Hideout. One bill in the legislative general session in March allowed a path to circumvent county consent; another, which was passed during a special session in June, dealt with annexations that result in peninsulas of land jutting into a neighboring county, among other things.
On Thursday, legislators removed the language that allowed annexation without a neighboring county’s consent, a narrow repeal seemingly targeted at the Hideout annexation move.
But the town, the developers and the legislation’s co-sponsor have each indicated they are not abandoning what they were trying to accomplish.
Hideout’s stated aim was to provide commercial services for its residents and the neighbors soon expected to move into the area around the Jordanelle Reservoir. The land could have enabled civic services like parks, a fire house or a school, town officials have said, and the increased commercial tax base would have bolstered town coffers.
For developers Nate Brockbank and Josh Romney, the goal was to build a large-scale mixed-use development on 655 acres of undeveloped land near Richardson Flat while avoiding Summit County’s approval process, which Brockbank slammed in testimony during a court hearing. Their plan called for up to 3,500 homes and hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial services.
Rep. Calvin R. Musselman, R-West Haven, who sponsored the original bill and the bill repealing the language, said that there are still problems to fix in the state’s land-use laws regarding annexation and incorporation, and he vowed to ferret them out and fix them, with an eye to protecting private property rights.
But for Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Sandy, the bill’s floor sponsor, the repeal at Thursday’s special session was about putting right what he said had been misrepresented to him and that he, in turn, had misrepresented to his colleagues earlier this year.
Cullimore introduced a substitute bill the night before the end of the Legislature’s general session in March, telling his colleagues the language accomplished technical changes and that it had consensus support of the stakeholders involved, including a property rights coalition and associations of cities and counties. The Utah Association of Counties has since said it had not seen the bill and did not approve of it. Cullimore said in an interview earlier this summer that the bill had been misrepresented to him and that he had been told all of the stakeholders had agreed to the changes.
“Because I said on the Senate floor that it was a consensus, (when I was made aware it was not) … I requested that we run a repeal so that if this policy needs to be — if this body and the house determined to take up this policy again, that it should be more argued on the merits and not misrepresented,” he said.
Hideout officials have said the need for commercial services persists for its residents and that it would continue to pursue those services, hopefully in conversation with Park City and Summit and Wasatch counties.
“We are disappointed but at the same time believe our efforts were an important step in bringing awareness to the significant needs for goods, services and affordable housing in the area,” Hideout Mayor Phil Rubin wrote in a message to The Park Record. “We remain committed to being part of the solution.”
Brockbank, through a spokesperson, acknowledged the process had been challenging, but said he was committed to working with the neighboring jurisdictions to pursue solutions.
“We remain committed to being part of cleaning up and putting to beneficial use this long neglected and seriously contaminated part of Summit County,” he wrote in a message.
Fisher said the county was interested in pursuing regional solutions and that the Legislature had sent a strong statement about the annexation bid when it repealed the language that set up this “conflict of communities.”
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