Hideout’s proposed growth may imperil city and county development plans
Hideout, a town just 10 years old, is looking to expand.
For a municipality do so, the state requires it to create an annexation map with future boundaries. The small Wasatch County town near the Summit County border created such a map and included it in its first general plan, which was passed in April. But that map is turning some heads, as it would nearly triple the town’s size, includes Park City and Summit County holdings and encroaches on others, including Richardson Flat, Quinn’s Junction and Bonanza Flat.
The proposed annexation boundaries are not a plan to take over that land. Instead, it provides the legal basis for landowners to approach Hideout to be annexed into the town, or for the town to initiate the process, Hideout Administrator Jan McCosh said.
If the land is annexed into the town, Hideout would have final say on the land-use decisions, according to state law, which could threaten Summit County or Park City’s plans. That annexation is far from certain, as Summit County Manager Tom Fisher has written to Hideout that any annexation of county land would require the county’s approval. If county parcels are not removed from the proposal, the county will effectively veto any annexation requests of properties in Summit County, Fisher wrote.
But if the annexation boundaries are approved, and annexations move forward, it could give the tiny, young town more than a seat at the table in land-use decisions: It could shift authority for whether and how to develop much of the land surrounding the northern portion of the Jordanelle Reservoir.
Fisher met with his Park City counterpart, Diane Foster, and McCosh to discuss the issue, and he said they’re trying to arrange a meeting with elected officials from each municipality. Though the process was already restarted once, the map could be approved as early as Aug. 8. Fisher said it’s unclear whether that meeting would happen before then.
In a June letter to the Town of Hideout, Fisher requested the town remove all Summit County land from the proposed annexation area.
“It’s an important issue,” Fisher said in an interview. “Any area that’s in Summit County is of concern for the county.”
Hideout relies solely on residential tax income except for one business, and it’s eyeing annexation as a path to future growth. Fisher noted much of the Summit County land in the proposed boundaries is zoned for one residence per 20, 40 or even 120 acres in the county’s general plan.
The letter states the annexation declaration will “lay the groundwork to accelerate potentially detrimental development activity that is inconsistent with Summit County planning policies.”
Park City is in the process of updating its annexation boundaries, and state law allows for the boundaries to overlap, though it should “attempt to avoid overlaps with the expansion areas of other municipalities.”
Hideout’s proposal does not appear to overlap Park City’s current annexation boundaries, last updated in 2017.
State law requires multiple public hearings to approve annexation boundaries, and Hideout’s proposal was almost through that process earlier this summer when Foster asked the town to slow down, McCosh said.
“We have started over in our annexation policy because we wanted to include and involve others in our surrounding communities,” McCosh explained. “Diane Foster wanted us to start over, and we were happy to do that.”
The first public hearing in the current process was July 18 and the next is scheduled for Aug. 1, both in front of the Hideout Planning Commission. The last scheduled hearing is before the Town Council Aug. 8, after which the town may approve the plan.
Hideout sits in Wasatch County but is surrounded on three sides by Summit County. It boasts views overlooking the Jordanelle Reservoir and a population of about 1,200 people. That’s double what it was when the town was incorporated in 2008 under a short-lived state law.
Hideout was a luxury development before it was a town, and about 75 percent of the land in the town is still governed by master development agreements between the town and various developments. One 2010 agreement covers more than 1,000 acres. Robert Martino signed the agreement for Mustang Development, and Richard Sprung signed for the town. Martino has since served as the town’s mayor.
These development agreements complicate efforts to govern the town, McCosh said, and they hamper efforts to raise funds for the government as they preclude things like raising impact fees.
McCosh, who joined Hideout in January while working on a PhD in land use, said the town has been operating with a skeleton crew for years. Council members and mayors have cleared snow to help out the one full-time public works employee, she said.
Diversifying the tax base to add more businesses is one of the goals included in the general plan where the annexation policy was first introduced. If the annexation map is approved, the Jovid Mark Hotel and ice-rink complex being constructed at the entrance to Browns Canyon Road, for example, could petition to join Hideout. It would then pay taxes to the town.
The town is considering approving the annexation boundaries while also weighing its first tax hike. It would nearly double taxes on homes and businesses, but McCosh notes the taxes have always been some of the lowest in the area. For an average home valued at $562,000, taxes would jump from $136 to $268; for a business of the same value, it would be an increase of $239 to $487 a year. The town doesn’t have any commercial properties except for one nine-hole golf course.
The tax increase would pay for delayed maintenance to infrastructure, adding staff to wrangle with complex development-related questions and engineering costs for maps and other state-required documents, McCosh said.
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