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Tom Clyde: Hideout reboot

The Hideout saga continues. It’s back, this time with some changes. The overall project has shrunk from about 625 acres to 350 acres. The land removed was partly land Park City claims to have restricted development on through the Empire Pass agreement years ago. What development at the top of Deer Valley had to do with sagebrush at Richardson Flat, which is not subject to Park City zoning, is hard to explain. But Park City insists that the land is restricted, and the developers decided they didn’t want to deal with that issue.

So the project is smaller by almost half — the half that included parkland — but the total density is reduced, too. The other big change is that the proposed development used to be called “North Park.” In the new plan, it will be known as “Hideout West.” Well, that makes all the difference. The apparent snub of Park City is hard to ignore. The developers don’t want their project associated with the famous resort town any more, and instead want to be identified as part of Hideout.

Park City and Summit County still hate the idea. Summit County has the land zoned one unit to 20 acres, because who wouldn’t want a 20-acre estate nestled between two overcrowded state highways on the shores of the toxic tailings pond? But there’s no way Summit County is going to rezone it for commercial development and high-density residential to make the traffic problems worse. No, if Summit County is going to rezone something to make traffic problems worse, they will do it at the Tech Park at Kimball Junction. Why create a new mess at Richardson Flat when you can make the existing mess at Kimball Junction even worse?

So the developers have restarted the annexation process with Hideout. The Legislature met in a special session a month ago to plug the loophole that had allowed Hideout’s initial cross-county annexation process. But the loophole had a loophole of its own: The repeal doesn’t take effect until mid-October. There was time to start the process over again and complete the annexation before the repeal takes effect. The rapscallions at Hideout decided to go for it.

If you live in Hideout, your kids go to school in Heber, you get your mail in Kamas, commute to work in Salt Lake and think you live in Park City.”

Hideout’s explanation for all of this is that they have a booming residential community without so much as a 7-Eleven to be found. They need basic services like a grocery store, coffee shops and an indoor surfing facility. They need some sales tax revenue to function. As an actual town, Hideout has the authority to zone land within the existing boundaries for commercial use. For some reason, they haven’t done that, and are looking to annex Richardson Flat to solve their own planning mistakes. This seems like a lot of effort to get a Starbucks.

The area around Jordanelle Reservoir is a jurisdictional chowder gone bad. Some of it is zoned by Wasatch County, some by Hideout and a lot of it by MIDA. MIDA is the unaccountable state agency that funds warehouses adjoining Hill Air Force Base, as well as single-family homes on the north end of Jordanelle and the Mayflower ski resort, all in the interest of a strong national defense.

If you live in Hideout, your kids go to school in Heber, you get your mail in Kamas, commute to work in Salt Lake and think you live in Park City.

It could be fixed. It’s late in the game to redraw the lines, but it’s not impossible. The school district boundaries could get shifted around so that kids on that side of the lake go to school in Kamas or Park City. The reasons for having three school districts in Summit County are long gone, but that’s another rant. Busing Hideout kids past the front door of the Park City schools on their way to Heber is stupid.

The bigger question is just how much growth we want around here. The proposed units at Richardson Flat could seemingly add 2,500 to 3,000 people. That’s on top of about 20,000 other units approved around the reservoir. The proposal for converting the Tech Park at Kimball Junction from office to residential would add about the same. Silver Creek Village’s 1,300 units bring another 3,000 people or so into the mix. Then we have the plague-related phenomenon of existing second homes becoming primary residences.

I don’t know anybody who thinks doubling the population in the area is a good idea, but that’s the course we are on. The Snyderville Basin zoning code has a designation of “rural residential” in it. That’s delightfully quaint, but “rural” left the building a long time ago. Park City talks a good line about small-town charm, but that, too, is more nostalgia than reality. Small-town charm ended with traffic congestion, parking meters and an economy that depends on 15,000 workers a day commuting from Salt Lake, Heber and Kamas.

Frankly, I don’t much like the neighbors I’ve got. I’m certainly not looking for 20,000 more. Not even if there is an indoor surfing facility.

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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