Amy Roberts: Hideout proves that failing to plan is planning to fail
It would be easy to assume the inability to host a highly anticipated meeting via Zoom might be all the proof needed to realize those running the town of Hideout lack fundamental planning skills. But what they lack in strategy and competence, they apparently make up for in perseverance and arrogance.
Less than one day after being told by a judge it was not to pursue the pre-annexation agreement the town passed in July because the process was, at best, deeply flawed, Hideout’s Town Council scheduled a work session to plot its next move. A hastily scheduled meeting on the Friday night leading into a holiday weekend doesn’t exactly ooze transparency, which has been a top concern all along.
The town and developers Nate Brockbank and Josh Romney have been accused of masterminding a cunning backroom deal with the state Legislature to allow for Hideout to annex roughly 650 acres of land in Summit County without the county’s approval or even advanced knowledge. Accusations in litigation filed by Summit County include manipulating lawmakers and holding secret meetings to avoid public input. Hideout Town Council members have feigned offense at these perceptions and stated that everything was perfectly legal and there was no attempt to conceal intent.
My advice to them is to hire a communications firm that specializes in reputation management. Because if your reputation is that you embrace shady practices in an attempt to annex land, and a judge voices concern about your lack of open meetings and public comment in her ruling against you, and the state Legislature does a 180 and repeals the very law that allowed this to happen in the first place, perhaps the next best step is not to host a meeting on the Friday night before the Labor Day weekend to discuss where to go from here. Consider for a moment how pro-development the state Legislature is. Then remember there’s a Romney making requests. The willingness of Utah lawmakers to say “oops” and vote to repeal this law should be enough to give one pause.
In an interview with KPCW, Hideout Town Council member Chris Baier said the town was in a very odd place because it was being “ignored” by Wasatch County, where it’s located, and “despised” by Summit County. Well, duh. Usually when you try to steal something from your neighbor hard feelings tend to surface. And when your neighbor catches you in the act and gets a court order to stop you from stealing, and then you try to plot another attempt, well, the contempt seems rather justified.
While I do think regional collaboration is necessary to plan for future growth, this isn’t collaboration. It’s an attempted hostile takeover. It’s frankly no different than me purchasing my home, knowing I will need to expand to meet my needs. But then deciding that instead of adding onto my house within the land I already own, I’m just going to take over my neighbor’s backyard because she’s not really using it anyway. There’s a reason that’s not acceptable. Or legal. After all, it’s not my land. And how much I need it, or how little my neighbor uses it, isn’t exactly a stellar legal strategy.
The original development plans for the area call for 200,000 square feet of retail commercial space, 100,000 square feet of office space and 3,500 residential units, though the developers have stated these plans present the maximum use and the final project will be scaled back.
Perhaps instead of scaling back and making revisions, the existing plans should be burned. It’s time to start over, this time with competent planners and developers who understand the concept of property and county lines. It is Hideout’s responsibility to either pressure Wasatch County to pay attention to the town’s needs and work together, or adjust its master plan to fit within its existing footprint. Land grabbing to make up for your lack of strategic planning is justifiably despisable.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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