Record editorial: Leaders must not let annexation attempt poison the well
Hideout’s annexation attempt is over for now, felled by a technology blunder that scuttled a public hearing last week that was required for the process to move forward.
It is expected that state lawmakers during a special session scheduled to start Thursday will repeal the short-lived law that made the controversial cross-county maneuver possible. If that happens, the ordeal will be over after a dizzying month and a half, save for an ongoing court battle.
But even then, that won’t be the end of the story.
For years now, officials in Summit County and Park City have publicly espoused the need for regional solutions to regional problems like affordability, traffic congestion and the dearth of workforce housing. Those issues are too big and too intricate for any one jurisdiction to tackle alone. The way forward, officials have said, is for local governments in the Wasatch Back to link arms, working together as neighbors toward common goals.
And they’re right. If that kind of cooperation fails to materialize in the coming years and decades as the pressures of growth and development continue to build, Park City and Summit County will be worse off, along with the rest of the Wasatch Back.
The annexation debacle, unfortunately, may set back those efforts. While Hideout is small, the town — as this episode illustrates — is an important player in Wasatch Back affairs. Its residents contribute to, and are affected by, the issues our leaders hope to address.
Can the acrimony the annexation attempt has spurred be easily erased? Unlikely.
Summit County, most notably, sued Hideout, and in the process accused the town of all sorts of untoward actions meant to keep the annexation plan secret until the last minute. Park City echoed those claims and has aggressively opposed the move.
Given the details that have become public, the term Summit County and Park City has used to describe the annexation attempt — “land grab” — is justified. As is their frustration.
Hideout, meanwhile, will continue to be without services like grocery stores and gas stations it says its residents desperately need. It will also forgo the vital tax revenue the mixed-use development eyed for the land would have yielded. Town officials, doubtless, are also peeved.
So it remains a tense situation.
Yet grudges are not what the people of the Wasatch Back need. They need their leaders to put aside their anger and hurt feelings and find a way to move forward. After the events of the last several weeks, a measure of skepticism is warranted as the parties reengage, but it must be followed by good-faith attempts at partnership.
Allowing resentment to linger may feel satisfying, at first, but it does not make an effective strategy for confronting the issues facing the Wasatch Back.
For the good of us all, we’ll need our leaders to move on and put an unseemly chapter in local relations behind them.
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