Summit County accuses Hideout of continuing its annexation attempt
Town says annexation is ‘in full force and effect,’ a proclamation town officials say was required by state law
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comment from the Utah Director of Elections.
Summit County wants a 4th District Court judge to specifically bar Hideout from taking any action to annex or develop land inside the county after the town council there proclaimed the annexation ordinance “is in full force and effect as the law of the Town of Hideout.”
Judge Jennifer Brown struck down the annexation attempt June 22 in an oral ruling that the town said it will appeal.
Summit County alleges Hideout wants to pursue the annexation before the ruling is finalized and is asking Brown to specifically declare that the town cannot do so.
In a statement posted on the town website, Hideout officials called the motion a frivolous publicity stunt.
“We are well aware of the court’s ruling and have no intention of violating it,” the statement says.
The town is seeking to annex 350 acres of Richardson Flat in Summit County to develop what officials call a new town center, including 600 homes, commercial areas and municipal amenities.
Summit County and Park City officials, however, plan for the land to remain undeveloped. If the town annexes the land into its borders, it gains control over how the land is used.
On the same day as Brown’s ruling barring the annexation, Hideout voters overwhelmingly supported the measure in a referendum. The Hideout town council officially certified those results a week later, triggering a requirement in state code that the council immediately issue a proclamation that the ordinance in question “be in full force and effect.”
Town officials say they were following the referendum requirements while the separate appeal process plays out. County officials say no such proclamation should have been made because the ordinance at the center of it was struck down.
The town’s proclamation states Brown’s ruling “has not been finalized,” though it acknowledges the annexation law is subject to court rulings. Hideout attorney Polly McLean said the town included the language about the ruling’s status to explain why the town hadn’t yet appealed it.
Summit County claims state officials advised Hideout not to issue the proclamation. The county filed as an exhibit an email from the state’s elections director, Justin Lee, to the Hideout town clerk.
“We do not believe, however, that the (Hideout town) council should declare an outcome or proclaim that the law subject to the referendum ‘to be in full force and effect’ as would normally happen under 20A-7-610, since the judge has already ruled that it will not be in effect,” the email states. “To reiterate, in the view of our office the council could certify the vote totals as accurate, but they should not declare an outcome that is different from what the court has ordered.”
Lee clarified in an email to The Park Record that the state office does not support or oppose the town’s actions, though he indicated he advised town officials not to declare the ordinance is in effect unless a court rules that it is.
“The only opinion I believe matters at this point is the opinion of the court,” Lee wrote.
In a statement posted on the town’s website, Hideout officials called the county’s motion “bullying” and a mischaracterization of the facts.
The statement says the county included in its filings only portions of the correspondence between the town and state officials.
“In fact, the Lt. Gov’s office supported Hideout’s approach since the court ruling was acknowledged in the proclamation,” the statement says.
It goes on, “Summit County wishes to quash the voice of its citizens and not let their vote stand. Summit County is well aware that certain procedural requirements have to be met after a referendum is passed by its citizens … and the requirements still need to be followed even while the Court’s ruling is appealed.”
The county claims its attorneys asked Hideout officials to enter into an order stipulating that it could not move forward with the annexation plans, but the town refused.
County officials said the filing was necessary to prevent the town from working to develop the land against court order.
“Summit County should not have to continue filing legal actions against the Town of Hideout for on-going and continuous violations of the Court’s Orders and the law regarding lands located inside Summit County’s jurisdictional boundaries, nor to keep constant vigilance against the same,” the county wrote.
The case is scheduled for a hearing on July 16.
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Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt died Friday from injuries sustained in an off-duty accident earlier in the week, the agency announced.