Judge rules against controversial Hideout annexation of Summit County land hours before the town’s voters approve it

Summit County has called the property grab “hostile” because the Wasatch County hamlet used a short-lived legal loophole to scoop up hundreds of acres near Park City without the county’s consent.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Hideout's future remains unclear as hundreds of acres it annexed on the outskirts of Park City was deemed illegal by a district judge. The town plans to appeal the decision.

The same day that Hideout residents voted in favor of the small town’s controversial expansion plans, a judge has ruled the Town Council illegally reached across county lines and annexed hundreds of acres near Park City.

In a referendum that was supposed to determine Hideout’s fate, the small Wasatch County town’s unofficial results posted Tuesday night show residents voted 178-87 in favor of supporting the Town Council’s annexation plans.

But The Park Record reports that 4th District Judge Jennifer Brown sided with Summit County in one of its many lawsuits against Hideout and the town’s developer, Nate Brockbank, potentially rendering the annexation moot.

At issue is a 350-acre swath called Silver Flats, which Hideout absorbed without Summit County’s consent, looking to develop it with hundreds of homes, commercial properties and a downtown core.

Summit County has called the move “hostile” in legal filings because Hideout scooped up the land without the county’s consent.

The annexation was invalid, the judge found, because the Town Council once again missed a deadline to post proper public notice of the decision.

Town officials are expected to appeal, and it appears they have their residents’ backing.

Hideout’s annexation was made possible only through a short-lived legislative loophole that state lawmakers quickly rescinded when they learned of the Hideout Town Council’s plans. But the council was able to annex the land anyway during the window of time between when lawmakers repealed the loophole and the date when it took effect.

Legislators and officials in both Wasatch and Summit counties have publicly spoken out against the move. Kurt Shadle, a former Hideout council member, abruptly resigned amid annexation discussions last summer and largely led the movement for a referendum.

If a higher court upholds the district judge’s ruling, the town will have to work with Summit County on annexation or scrap those plans altogether and find another way to grow.