Fight over Hideout’s annexation attempt gathers steam after dormant winter
Hearings, meetings scheduled before June vote
There are four court cases, four feasibility studies and one crucial public vote pending in Hideout’s attempt to annex Richardson Flat.
After the town’s sprint to meet a mid-October deadline to vote to annex the land, the project has made little news this winter. In virtual courtrooms and public and private legal offices, however, work has continued.
Summit County and Park City are trying to stop the development of Richardson Flat, where developer Nate Brockbank is proposing to build what has been billed as a new town center for Hideout.
The 350-acre project site is in Summit County on the other side of a ridgeline from Hideout itself, which is nestled on the eastern shore of the Jordanelle Reservoir.
Over several phases, the project would include 600 homes, 95,000 square feet of commercial businesses and a new town hall, which Brockbank has said he’d pay for.
Town officials in recent weeks entered into contracts with consultants to study the project’s economic, financial, environmental and traffic impacts. Officials indicated the reports would cost more than $10,000 each, and that Brockbank would pay for those, as well, in addition to the town’s legal fees related to litigation.
Officials hope the reports will be ready in advance of a town hall-style meeting in May to discuss the proposed annexation. Details about the meeting have not yet been made public.
The Town Council started the process to annex the land twice, both times over the strenuous and litigious objections of Summit County and Park City. The town ultimately voted to enter a formal agreement with Brockbank last October, days before this type of cross-county annexation once again became illegal after lawmakers reversed the short-lived law that made it possible.
In addition to pending lawsuits, the annexation is also contingent upon Hideout voters. On June 22, Hideout’s 330 registered voters will be asked to decide whether to move forward with the project.
There have been indications residents disliked how the developer and town officials pursued the annexation, but some residents have expressed their support for the commercial services a development might bring.
While the vote has the ability to stop the annexation, it may not ultimately proceed even if residents support it. That may be decided in district court, where five separate lawsuits were at one point pending simultaneously.
One was dismissed almost immediately, another has been paused since October and the other three are proceeding apace: Summit County has sued Hideout twice, once for each of the town’s two annexation attempts; and Summit County, joined by Park City, is suing 10 parties involved in the proposal and ownership of land in Richardson Flat that is no longer included in Hideout’s annexation plans.
The case most directly tied to the fate of the annexation is referred to as Hideout II, filed in November after Hideout voted to annex the land in Richardson Flat. Summit County is suing to invalidate Hideout’s annexation mostly on process grounds, alleging the town violated open meetings laws, improperly adopted a land-use regulation, engaged in illegal contract zoning and failed to meet a key deadline. Hideout has disputed those claims.
A Hideout motion to delay the case until after the June referendum was denied in late March and a deposition in the case is scheduled next week.
Summit County’s separate suit against Hideout’s first annexation attempt, which includes many of the same charges, is also proceeding. Hideout voted to withdraw its intent-to-annex resolution after a botched virtual public hearing in August. The town is contending the annexation at the center of that case is no longer active and the case is therefore moot. A hearing is scheduled on that matter April 27.
In another filing, Park City and Summit County are suing Brockbank, Wells Fargo Bank, United Park City Mines and seven other individuals and limited-liability corporations associated with the ownership and proposed development of two parcels of land in Richardson Flat.
Brockbank removed that land from his second annexation proposal, which the town ultimately adopted, reducing the project’s size by about 300 acres. The suit concerns the future of that land, which the city and county are alleging was illegally subdivided. A hearing is scheduled April 15.
In September, 3rd District Court Judge Richard Mrazik dismissed a separate petition from Stichting Mayflower alleging Summit County had placed an illegal lien on some of its landholdings in Richardson Flat.
In the final case, Summit County is alleging it is a co-owner of some of the land included in Hideout’s annexation attempt, citing a claim dating back to a deed from the 1920s. The suit, which the county filed against Brockbank, Stichting Mayflower, five unnamed individuals and an associated LLC, has been dormant since shortly after Mrazik denied the county’s request for a temporary restraining order last fall.
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Summit County’s sales taxes are beating 2019 levels, with an estimated additional $1.2 million in revenue. Councilors debated using the money to hire more employees.