Record editorial: Legislature must prevent Hideout annexation
It’s time for lawmakers to clean up their mess.
We now know that it was a last-minute substitute bill during the state legislative session in March that is giving Hideout the authority to pursue its plan to annex more than 650 acres of land in Summit County without permission from officials here.
We also know that Sen. Kirk Cullimore, a Republican from Sandy who sponsored the legislation, was mistaken when he told his fellow legislators that changes to the bill were insubstantial and that all stakeholders were on board, an assurance that led to the bill’s near-unanimous passage in about 2 minutes on the second to last day of the legislative session.
In reality, the “nothing to see here” message couldn’t have been further from the truth, as the bill paved the way for Hideout’s brazen land grab.
Was there something nefarious at play, some backroom deal meant to benefit Hideout and developers Nate Brockbank and Josh Romney, whose attempts to get Summit County on board with a mixed-use project on the land were unlikely to be successful? Park City and Summit County officials, rightly outraged at Hideout being empowered to take the land, have made their suspicions clear, though Romney and Hideout Mayor Phil Rubin have disputed the notion of any wrongdoing.
We’ll gain a clearer picture of the circumstances that led to the Hideout’s annexation play in the coming weeks and months as more details come to light. In the meantime, there’s only one reasonable path forward: Lawmakers, now fully aware of the law’s implications, must tweak or repeal it as soon as possible and restore Summit County’s authority to determine what happens on land inside its borders.
Fortunately, some have indicated that could happen at a special legislative session next month. Failing that, though, Summit County is wise to explore other legal options to halt the annexation, which could move forward in August if the Legislature doesn’t act and if Hideout elects to plow ahead with its plan despite the backlash from Summit County and Park City.
Hideout’s desire to annex the land is understandable. Development there would allow the small town to broaden its tax base and provide its residents with services like grocery stores and gas stations they currently have to drive to Park City or elsewhere to access.
But enabling Hideout to take the land without permission from the Summit County government, which opposes the development, is ludicrous. It seems likely that many lawmakers would agree and would have opposed Cullimore’s bill — or at least debated it — had they known its implications.
Now, they must step in and remedy what has become an ugly situation before the annexation moves forward.
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