Hideout’s annexation attempt is in the hands of 343 registered voters as referendum nears
Ballots were sent out Tuesday ahead of June 22 election
One of the most impactful local elections this year won’t be in November, doesn’t involve any candidates and the winning side may end up with fewer than 200 votes.
Hideout’s referendum vote June 22 may well determine whether Richardson Flat is developed, 600 homes are added near Quinn’s Junction and drive-thrus, grocery stores and gas stations pop up on what is now open space.
There are 343 registered voters in the town of around 1,000 people, according to Wasatch County Clerk Joey Granger, and mail-in ballots were sent to voters starting June 1.
The ballot asks a simple question: “Are you for or against the annexation taking effect?”
To vote in the referendum, one must be a Hideout resident 18 years or older. The deadline to register is June 11 and ballots must be postmarked no later than June 21. Voters can also return their ballots in person at the Hideout Town Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The hours are extended on June 22, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
If a voter is not registered by June 11, they can fill out a provisional ballot at the Town Hall during regular business hours, according to Hideout Clerk Alicia Fairbourne.
Hideout, which is in Wasatch County on the eastern bank of the Jordanelle Reservoir, passed an ordinance last October to annex 350 acres of Richardson Flat, which is northwest of the town and in Summit County. The referendum asks voters whether or not to overturn that ordinance.
Developer Nate Brockbank is proposing to build 600 homes there, along with about 100,000 square feet of commercial space and a new town hall and to set aside acreage for a school and other municipal uses.
Proponents of the plan have touted the need for commercial services like a grocery store closer to the town than in Park City. They indicate the development would fill in gaps created by lackluster regional planning that have resulted in explosive residential growth around the reservoir without the accompanying support businesses.
They also say that the town wouldn’t have a seat at the regional negotiating table without controlling more land, and that the town needs to diversify its revenue sources, which are based primarily on building permit fees.
Opponents from inside the town and out at first decried the process by which officials sought the annexation. It was only allowed by a last-minute bill at the state Legislature, which legislators swiftly repealed. The Town Council voted to annex the land days before that repeal came into effect.
Opponents say the controversial process that has drawn the ire of Hideout’s municipal neighbors, as well as multiple lawsuits, threatens the town’s ability to participate in the type of regional planning that officials on both sides of the issue say is necessary to handle the growth already hitting the area.
A voter information pamphlet includes arguments for the annexation by Town Councilor Chris Baier and against the annexation by former Councilor Kurt Shadle.
Baier touts the prospect of building a new town center, allowing residents to access amenities like trails closer to their backyards and focuses on the prospect of a new school. She also indicates the annexation might be Hideout’s only chance to grow.
“Without this annexation, Hideout may never get another opportunity to expand because of its geographic location, as the Town is surrounded by Summit County and Jordanelle Reservoir,” she wrote.
Under state law, Summit County would have to consent to an annexation of its land, which officials have indicated they would not do. Recent tweaks by the Legislature have made cross-county annexations slightly easier.
Baier also said the town has an “imperative to broaden its long-term and sustainable revenues.”
“The opposition is trying to deny Hideout’s right to self-determination as a municipality to control its finances, property, and future economic development,” she wrote.
Shadle indicated the annexation could further isolate Hideout and reduce the chances it can participate meaningfully in regional dialogue about issues like traffic and land-use planning.
“As long as we continue to be in our own little silos and our own little shells, none of these issues are truly going to be solved because they are much larger than a 1- or 2- or 3-square-mile focus. They are a large-scale focus that requires attention from multiple sources,” Shadle said at an informational meeting the town held last month. “… There needs to be a formalized regional planning commission which has the authority to contain and regulate this development and the negative impacts of individual community decisions on neighboring communities across counties.”
Shadle also indicated he doubted the town’s small government’s ability to effectively oversee the construction management and legal challenges that might arise from a project of this scope. He further questioned the project’s source of water, writing that the Jordanelle Special Service District has expressed opposition to the annexation.
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Court report: Week of June 22