Hideout unveils plan to annex land near Richardson Flat, possibly opening door to development near Park City’s border
The Hideout Town Council Thursday voted unanimously to begin the process of annexing hundreds of acres of Summit County land near Richardson Flat, a move that stunned officials from Park City, Summit County and Wasatch County.
If it annexes the land, Hideout, a fledgling town only 12 years old, would control land-use decisions for a large portion of the eastern portal to Park City, potentially opening the door to the kind of big-box development both Summit County and Park City have shunned in the area, but that could provide a commercial tax base that would serve the cash-strapped town well.
Summit County received an application earlier this year from developers Nate Brockbank and Josh Romney to allow 920 acres around Richardson Flat to be used for a mixed-use development. A public hearing about the proposal scheduled for next week has been canceled, as this annexation plan appears to have supplanted the proposal. That plan appeared unlikely to succeed, given the long-standing desire of Summit County and Park City officials to leave the area undeveloped.
The developers attended Thursday’s virtual Town Council meeting, and Brockbank was referenced as the developer for the land Hideout is seeking to annex, which is smaller than what was included in the application to Summit County. It appears the developers are now trying to get a project approved through Hideout rather than Summit County.
Neither Brockbank nor Romney, son of Sen. Mitt Romney, responded to a request for comment.
Elected officials from Wasatch County, Park City and Summit County voiced their opposition to the move during the brief public hearing.
“This is quite a land grab from our perspective,” said Chris Robinson, the longest-tenured Summit County councilor. “We’re a bit chagrined the (town) government wouldn’t at least give us some notice of this action.”
A new state law that enables this inter-county annexation requires a public hearing within 30 days before the town can move forward with the process.
The land in question covers most of the area between S.R. 248 and U.S. 40 south of Richardson Flat Road and north of the hills above the Jordanelle Reservoir. It does not include the Richardson Flat park-and-ride or the Clark Ranch, which is owned by Park City. It runs from the hill that forms the boundary of Park’s Edge on the east to the intersection of S.R. 248 and Richardson Flat Road on the west.
Hideout did not make specifics like acreage or plans for the land public during or immediately after the meeting Thursday night or as of Friday afternoon.
Neighboring elected officials said the move caught them off guard and that they were not given enough time or information to respond. They requested the Town Council delay its vote.
Instead, Hideout elected officials voted 4-0 on a resolution announcing their intention to annex the land.
The agenda for the meeting appeared innocuous, with two items related to annexation wedged between a discussion about fire safety and approvals of bills to be paid. Maps of the proposal were not revealed until Mayor Phil Rubin displayed them during the public hearing and the language of the resolution had not been posted as of The Park Record’s press deadline Friday.
Pat Putt, Summit County’s community development director, said he hadn’t seen anything like it in his 36-year career.
“Stunned. By both the action and lack of notice,” he said in an interview. “Neighbors don’t do this to neighbors.”
Hideout is in Wasatch County on the eastern shore of the Jordanelle Reservoir and has been expanding since its incorporation in 2008. It operates on a shoestring budget, with the mayor and some town councilors driving the snowplow in winter to help out the town’s one public works employee.
The town only had one source of commercial revenue for years, a golf course, and Rubin has said the town needs to increase its commercial tax revenue to survive. He has also said the town’s residents need a place to shop closer than Park City or Kamas.
Introducing the pre-annexation agreements, Rubin said the town’s goals can’t be met with the land currently within its borders, indicating businesses would likely be a part of the annexed land if it were to be developed.
Park City and Summit County both oppose development on the land, and did so during a public airing of disagreements last year when Hideout expanded its annexation boundaries. The land is currently zoned for very low density, and much of it was intended to be kept as open space, according to county documents.
Summit County received an application from Brockbank and Romney in January. Summit County’s planning department scheduled a public hearing on the plan July 14, but the developers unexpectedly announced they were stepping back from the plan, though they did not officially withdraw the application.
That plan covered 920 acres and included parts of Richardson’s Flat that are not in Hideout’s annexation plan. The application was scant on details, specifying only that it sought to create a mixed-use project that included office, residential and commercial uses.
At Thursday’s meeting, Rubin said Brockbank had ownership rights on the land the town is seeking to annex and agreed to a pre-annexation agreement. He said the town initiated the annexation process.
The application to Summit County indicates the developers had the land under contract but did not own it. The various parcels have been owned by legacy mining interests, including Stichting Mayflower Mountain Fonds and United Park City Mining Company, and the Jordanelle Special Service District.
Much of the land is severely contaminated and was used as a repository for mining byproducts that include heavy metals. In 1992, 160 acres around Richardson Flat was recommended to be listed as a federal Superfund site.
Thursday’s meeting occurred only 10 days after Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill that appears to allow the annexation. Previously, Summit County would have had to agree to an annexation request from a municipality in Wasatch County like Hideout, which County Manager Tom Fisher said in a 2019 letter would not occur.
A Park City representative said the city took issue with both the plan and the way it was brought about.
“With legislation passed merely a few days ago in the dead of night, basically, this is a really suspect approach and the city is (very) concerned about it,” said David Everitt, Park City deputy manager.
S.B. 5004 was signed June 29 and includes language allowing a municipality to annex land from a neighboring county. It was sponsored by Sen. David Buxton, R-Roy, and Rep. Steve Waldrip, R-Eden.
Rep. Tim Quinn, who represents the area in the Statehouse, voted against the bill, but said in an interview his vote was due to a stance that municipalities should be subject to checks and balances when annexing land, rather than in reaction to any specific annexation plan.
It’s not the first time Hideout has availed itself of a short-lived state law. Its 2008 founding occurred after the state passed regulations changing how towns could incorporate, changes that were overturned a short time later.
Hideout was a luxury development before it was a town, and the majority of its land is still controlled by master development agreements between the town and various developments, limiting its land-use flexibility.
Earlier Thursday, Summit County Manager Tom Fisher said the county hadn’t seen enough information about the proposal to judge its intent.
“We believe in the principle that annexation across county lines should be well-thought-out, well-communicated, transparent,” Fisher said. “It should be an asking process instead of a taking process.”
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The Jordanelle Reservoir is at about 67% of its capacity, not the lowest its been but a level that officials say is concerning.