Town of Hideout looks to renew Summit County annexation effort

Despite court battles, public feuds, bungled meetings and rescinded efforts associated with a controversial annexation, the Town of Hideout appears to be making a last-ditch effort to reach across county lines and annex a large portion of land without Summit County’s consent.

Hideout’s attorneys filed a request with the 4th District Court on Tuesday giving the judge notice of the town’s “opportunity to re-initiate the annexation process” despite the fact that, last week, the Utah Legislature repealed the law allowing the annexation in the first place.

Even though the repeal bill had two-thirds majority support that could allow it to take effect immediately upon the governor’s signature, it lacked the language that would trigger that and will not become law for 60 days.

Sponsoring Rep. Calvin Musselman, R-West Haven, said the repeal didn’t include language triggering immediate force of law, “in order for it to be fair to all parties involved.”

Hideout is apparently taking advantage of that window to push the annexation through before the repeal goes into effect.

Summit County officials are annoyed, to put it mildly.

“Summit County implores this Court to restore sanity, rules, and procedure to this dynamic created by Hideout,” the county’s attorneys wrote in a motion filed shortly after Hideout submitted its notice.

Daniel Dansie, attorney for the Town of Hideout, said he “wasn’t in a position to comment” about the latest annexation effort and referred The Salt Lake Tribune to Mayor Philip Rubin. As of Wednesday afternoon, Rubin had not responded to interview requests.

It has been a hard-luck month for Hideout. First, a judge slapped the town with a temporary restraining order after Summit County filed a lawsuit claiming the annexation effort was unlawful and tainted with secret dealings. Then the Town Council attempted to hold a digital public hearing on the annexation, but a Zoom meeting flub didn’t allow full public participation. The led the council to withdraw its annexation resolution on Aug. 14 since the canceled meeting meant they hadn’t followed the proper public process.

The court was supposed to hold a hearing on whether Hideout’s temporary restraining order would become a preliminary injunction on Aug. 17, but it has since been postponed until Sept. 3.

On Aug. 20, with a super-majority vote, the Utah Legislature rescinded a provision that opened the door for Hideout’s annexation. HB359 had initially been drafted during the 2020 General Session to address an issue in Weber County. A lobbyist made some last-minute changes to the bill, empowering Hideout to incorporate the parcels without Summit County’s approval.

“Hindsight is 20-20,” said Musselman, the sponsoring lawmaker. “We didn’t recognize the full ramifications of it.”

Summit County leaders, though, said the Legislature set the record straight during last week’s action on the repeal bill.

“[Lawmakers] made a very clear statement that the misrepresentations that created the original law allowing Hideout to do this was not their intent,” said Summit County Manager Tom Fisher. “So by Hideout going forward, they are not following the intent of the Legislature.”

On the same day as the Legislature’s repeal, in HB6007, Hideout Council member Kurt Shadle resigned. A Summit County attorney also emailed a Hideout attorney, advising him that the town’s temporary restraining order was still in effect and that any efforts “to proceed with its hostile annexation ... will be pursued by Summit County as contempt of court.”

Hideout’s attorney replied that it would be “impossible” for the town to violate the order, since the council withdrew its annexation resolution.

Four days later, Mayor Rubin emailed Summit County notice of a public meeting where the Town Council intended to consider the annexation again. After a few hours, the mayor canceled the meeting but didn’t walk back the council’s intentions to annex.

The town’s recent court request outlines its legal reasoning for moving forward with incorporating the Summit County parcels despite recent court orders and snafus.

It claims that the temporary restraining order expired Aug. 18, after the judge rescheduled the injunction hearing because “Hideout has not consented to its extension.” It also claims that the restraining order only applied to the town’s withdrawn annexation resolution, which makes the order moot.

The 4th District judge in the case has yet to weigh in.

The Summit County parcels the Town Council wants to add to Hideout include 655 acres of an area called Richardson Flat, where developers Nate Brockbank and Josh Romney intend to add dense commercial and residential development.

The county has adopted zoning rules that keep the area rural to help counterbalance urban development in Park City and Snyderville Basin.

“To allow a city from across a county border that has no obligation to follow any of that … we would not be representing our citizens well if we did not take steps to try and prevent the annexation,” Fisher said.

Editor’s note: 4:58 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27. This story has been updated to add comments from sponsoring Rep. Calvin Musselman.

Editor’s note: 7:10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27. This story has been updated to reflect that Summit County did not reject plans from developers or any application they made.