Hideout annexation is on hold after organizers gather enough signatures for referendum | ParkRecord.com

Hideout annexation is on hold after organizers gather enough signatures for referendum

Special June election could decide development’s future

The Hideout annexation is on hold until June after citizens successfully pushed to have the issue decided at the ballot box.
Park Record file photo

The Hideout annexation has been put on hold for the winter after residents gathered enough signatures to force a vote on the measure.

Hideout Town Clerk Alicia Fairbourne said the special election is scheduled for June 22, when residents can choose whether to accept or reject the ordinance the Town Council passed in October to annex 350 acres of Richardson Flat for development.

The annexation attempt has been freighted with controversy since it was first announced publicly this summer. While neighboring governments have vigorously opposed the measure with public statements and lawsuits, the only opinions on the issue that will matter come June are the registered voters who live in Hideout.

Developer Nate Brockbank is seeking to build a large, mixed-use development on what is now undeveloped land in Summit County. The Town Council voted 3-2 to annex the land, with Brockbank and multiple councilors at the time advocating to let voters have the final say on the project via referendum.

Public opinion appeared consistently and overwhelmingly opposed to the process by which the developer and town officials sought the annexation. That process included seemingly tailor-made legislation passed unwittingly by the state Legislature to allow this type of annexation for the first time, as well as a tight timeline and relative lack of public input that gave the impression the application was being rammed through.

But as the dust settles, it remains to be seen whether the substance of the plan will draw as much ire. Many town residents have indicated in interviews and public comments that they wouldn’t mind seeing the type of amenities developer Nate Brockbank has said he plans to build.

If the development were built, it would be a boon to town finances. In 2020, the town received no sales tax, according to minutes of a recent town council meeting, leaving it to rely largely on property taxes and building permit revenue.

According to a fiscal note prepared by town officials attached to the referendum materials, the town would gain $12 million worth of infrastructure and buildings if the development were built, including a new town hall, and it would earn nearly $15 million in taxes and fees over a 20-year period. That would be partially offset by roughly $9.5 million in service costs.

Fiscal predictions are difficult to calculate, but town officials indicated one reason they sought to annex the land is to expand the town’s tax base. Officials have indicated they expect building-permit revenue to decline as the town is built and fewer permits are issued.

Hideout resident Tom Sly, who signed the petition seeking a referendum on the annexation, said he was turned off by the divisive process and hoped that the six-month pause would encourage more public conversation about the project.

“I think we deserve to get more clarity, both from the developer and the town,” Sly said in an interview earlier this month. “What this is really going to mean, what it’s going to mean for us (and) for our community.”

Sly said that there were certain aspects of the project he found appealing, but that the project’s merits were largely lost in the discussions about legislative maneuvering.

“Aside from way too much residential, there were some neat things in there,” Sly said. “Take a step back and say, pretty cool stuff. Some pieces of it I’d like to have. But, again, it’s at what cost?”

Neighboring officials have warned that annexing the land over Summit County’s protests could put a chilling effect on regional collaboration at a time when many say regional planning is sorely needed.

“It’s theirs to win or lose, that’s what I can say,” Sly said of the developer’s opportunity to convince town residents of the plan’s merits. “But I don’t think that strong-arming politicians and pushing things through the legislature … are the way to do it.”

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