Hideout voters back annexation bid by a 2-to-1 margin (updated)
The future of Richardson Flat is still likely to be decided in court
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include additional comment.
Hideout voters overwhelmingly supported the town’s bid to annex part of Richardson Flat in a referendum that ended Tuesday, clearing a major hurdle in the effort to develop an area that neighboring jurisdictions want to remain undisturbed but that Hideout leaders are eyeing as a future town center.
According to unofficial results, 178 Hideout residents voted for the annexation and 87 voted against it, more than a two-to-one margin. The 265 votes were good for a 74% turnout, much higher than is typically seen in a municipal election, according to Hideout Clerk Alicia Fairbourne.
While the voters had the power to end the annexation bid by voting it down, Tuesday’s result does not mean the development necessarily will be built as proposed.
A few hours before the election results were announced, a 4th District Court judge struck down the town’s annexation bid in a legal challenge from Summit County. That result will likely be appealed, and it appears the future of Richardson Flat will be decided in a courtroom.
Developer Nate Brockbank is seeking to build 600 homes, 95,000 square feet of commercial businesses, a new town hall and other uses on 350 acres of Richardson Flat. The Town Council voted to annex the land last fall over the objections of Summit County, Park City and others.
Tuesday’s result, meanwhile, shows that Hideout voters agree with leaders in wanting the town to grow.
Hideout Mayor Phil Rubin, who has been a vocal proponent of the annexation, said the election shows Hideout voters overwhelmingly support the idea.
“This outcome confirms that Hideout residents want local amenities,” Rubin wrote in a prepared statement Wednesday morning. “Our town survey from 2019 clearly showed residents want more trails, public spaces, and local shopping. The referendum result, when confirmed, is an important step toward providing these needed service options close to home. Today marks a big day in the future of our Town.”
Rubin also wrote that he is confident the town will prevail in appealing the district court’s ruling.
In the vote approving the annexation last October, Town Councilors were split 3-2, with the promise of an eventual referendum appearing to be a key tipping point.
Four councilors had indicated they didn’t support the plan before Brockbank asked them, in effect, to let the voters decide, after which two councilors switched their votes.
Proponents of the annexation, including Rubin, say the development is necessary to provide commercial services for the quickly growing area around the Jordanelle Reservoir.
Other town officials have spoken of the need to diversify revenue sources by adding commercial properties and the taxes they generate.
The town began as a housing development and remains almost entirely residential. Commercial taxes are seen as more able to cover the costs of municipal services than residential taxes.
Opponents of the development have frequently decried the way in which the annexation was carried out — with accusations of shady dealings at the state Legislature — but the outcry against the plan itself has been less energetic. It has focused on traffic, environmental and aesthetic concerns. Some have said the development would add traffic to the already congested S.R. 248 entryway and destroy open space on the eastern portal to Park City.
Some Hideout residents, meanwhile, have appeared to support the idea of a grocery store and commercial center closer to their homes than Park City, Kamas or Heber City.
Tuesday’s results are unofficial and do not include provisional ballots or any the town receives by mail in coming days that were postmarked by the deadline. The Town Council is expected to officially certify the results June 29.
The election was unusual, not just because it was held in the middle of June. The town’s voting ranks swelled in the runup to the election, Fairbourne said, burgeoning from around 270 to 357. After the polls closed Tuesday evening, the ballots were taken under armed guard from the Hideout Town Hall to Heber City, where they were counted. The results were announced just after 10:15 p.m.
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The Summit County Fair returns this week.