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Tom Clyde: A nefarious hamlet

The district court in Wasatch County granted a temporary retraining order in the fight between Hideout and Summit County over the annexation of land at Quinn’s Junction. The court order maintains the status quo until things can be sorted out. So at least for now, the annexation is on hold, and our beloved wasteland remains safely in the arms of Summit County. Who knew the sagebrush flat surrounding the tailings pond (which Hideout didn’t try to annex because it’s full of nasty stuff) mattered so much to Summit County residents.

There is supposed to be a special session of the Legislature later this month, and the goal is to get lawmakers to repeal the provision they adopted only a couple of months ago, in the closing minutes of the session. I’m not sure they will do that. It requires them to confess to being either willing participants, or inattentive dupes, for voting for something they hadn’t looked at. Either way, it is a confession that there are a lot of shenanigans, if not full-bore malfeasance, at the Legislature.

There’s always a chance that some other mischief gets thrown into the repeal bill, just for good measure. I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow MIDA, that mysterious floating municipality without elected officials, makes an appearance. MIDA was supposed to be a vehicle for financing facilities to support military installations. Only in our case, it’s a resort village that may or may not have a ski resort attached, and some single-family lots that have no connection whatsoever to the goal of providing ski resort lodging for military personnel on recreation breaks. Still, I have to assume that the legislators are hearing from elected officials in other counties questioning why they thought this provision that undoes every county’s ability to plan within their own county is a good idea. Maybe reason will prevail.

Probably the best thing to come out of the county’s lawsuit was this: In the identification of the parties to the litigation, Hideout is described as “a nefarious and arguably unconstitutional hamlet.” That sums it up nicely. I have no idea who in the Summit County Attorney’s Office wrote that, but they should get some kind of literary award. In granting the county’s request for a restraining order, the court did not specifically rule on Hideout’s nefariousness, reserving that issue for later.

I have no idea who in the Summit County Attorney’s Office wrote that, but they should get some kind of literary award.”

There are a million questions out there. Water and sewer service within the nefarious hamlet are provided by the Jordanelle Special Service District. That ends at the county line. It’s not clear whether JSSD can, or would, encroach into Summit County. That may still require Summit County’s consent. Then there’s the issue of all the other property owners in JSSD’s service areas wondering if there will be water and sewer capacity left for them when they develop their land. They will not be happy if they are told, “Sorry, you’ve been paying assessments to us for all these years, but we committed the water across the county line for Hideout.”

The land in question is probably in the Snyderville Basin Sewer District, and if so, they may be obligated to provide service. But it doesn’t provide water service. It’s not clear if anybody has a water pipeline anywhere near the annexed land, and the annexed land doesn’t have a water right with it. Mixing Provo River water with Weber River effluent will knock the planets out of alignment. Something tells me that this won’t be over when the Legislature meets.

On other fronts, this weird summer gets weirder by the day. The smoke from the fire in Murdock Basin, up in the Uintas, has been pretty thick at my house at times. About 3 a.m. the canyon winds reverse and blow down-canyon. I wake up coughing and have to close the windows. There is constant helicopter traffic overhead. They seem to be dipping water out of the Jordanelle and flying over my house with a 1,000-gallon bucket of water dangling from what looks like a thread. For the first couple of days, my Aussie shepherd was quite alarmed by it, though he’s used to it now. After only a week, he has accepted a crushing weight swinging about in the sky, but Mrs. Pugsley, down the street, is still alarming after years of walking by the house.

The fire is close enough to keep an eye on, but not close enough to do anything about. That could change, and as the crow flies — or the helicopter — it’s not all that far away. So far, I’m assuming that a plague mask will keep me safe from that, too. The smoke is bad for several hours a day, but like the dog, I’m getting used to it.

The river is flowing less than half of normal, and things are drying out. It’s kind of a break from the plague, but a little rain would be great.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.


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