Hideout’s first master developer sues the town and its planner for $100M
Mustang Development alleges slander, says reduction of density was incorrect
The original master developer of Hideout is suing the town and its planner over development rights, accusing them of causing the developer economic damages of at least $100 million by reducing the value of its holdings and acting to prevent it from developing hundreds of homes.
Mustang Development, LLC, filed the lawsuit on Friday in 4th District Court. Listed as defendants are Hideout, its planner Thomas Eddington and Eddington’s firm Integrated Planning and Design.
The lawsuit accuses town officials of inaccurately reducing the number of residential units Mustang Development may build on land it owns and making comments that were intended to reduce the value of Mustang Development’s business.
The suit seeks no less than $100 million in damages and asks the court to confirm the number of residential units Mustang Development is able to build.
Town Attorney Polly McLean wrote in a prepared statement that Hideout denies any wrongdoing.
“This vendetta against the Town is unfounded and unfortunate,” McLean said. She was referencing the lawsuit as well as accusations in recent public letters from Mustang Development officials including its manager and former Hideout Mayor Bob Martino.
The lawsuit centers on the 2010 master development agreement that governs the Mustang holdings. The agreement, signed by Martino on behalf of Mustang and then-Hideout Mayor Richard Sprung, grants Mustang Development the right to develop 1,975 residential dwelling units.
Eddington in two recent staff reports has challenged that assertion, saying that number was improperly calculated and that 280 acres that are outside Hideout’s borders must be removed from the density calculations. That would remove 420 units from the total Mustang is entitled to build, according to the reports.
Eddington also writes that Mustang is out of compliance with the development agreement because the number of units already exceeds the maximum residential units permitted at full build-out.
Mustang Development, in the lawsuit, refutes Eddington’s assertions. Mustang alleges Eddington’s statements resulted in the town’s Planning Commission recommending against approving a subdivision application it was reviewing.
The suit further alleges that Eddington and other town officials made statements to landowners and some prospective buyers that were intended to interfere with Mustang’s business, harm its reputation and reduce the value of its holdings.
The lawsuit is distinct from the several active lawsuits that Hideout is facing over its proposed annexation of 350 acres of Richardson Flat. That annexation is being sought by a different developer, Nate Brockbank. Martino appeared to reference the situation in a public letter when he called the decision to annex the land “ill-advised” and said that town leadership was favoring one developer while attacking Mustang.
Martino said in the letter that a vocal minority of negative and angry people in the community circulate rumors and falsehoods against his business.
“The reality is that the master developer has been treated unfairly, we have been maligned, slandered and attacked consistently by the Town officials over the past couple of years. For the most part, we have looked the other way. However, we can no longer sit silent and lies and misrepresentation will be dealt with because these are causing significant damages,” Martino wrote.
He added that Hideout has become “one of worst, if not the worst run city in the state.”
Martino has been integrally involved in what is now Hideout since before it was incorporated, with Mustang developing much of the town.
This is not the first time Mustang Development has sued Hideout and town officials. Past controversies have centered around the levying of impact fees and discrepancies between the town code and the development agreement that governs Mustang Development’s holdings.
The current lawsuit was filed the day after a Hideout homeowner’s association was scheduled to vote on Martino’s proposal to sell it the Outlaw Golf Course.
Martino proposed to sell the land for $9.5 million, but his attorney sent a letter on May 5 to withdraw the offer.
“Town officials and residents have waged a deliberate and focused disinformation campaign designed to harm Mustang and damage its business interests and property values,” the letter states.
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