HIDEOUT, Wasatch County — The drama over the controversial Hideout annexation is far from over.
Even though the Utah Legislature last week in a special session repealed the bill that paved the way for Hideout to annex about 655 acres for a commercial development on the east side of the freeway from Park City despite the objections of Summit County, the town’s officials haven’t dropped the proposal.
Rather, they’re looking to take advantage of a 60-day window before the repeal bill takes effect and start the annexation process anew.
Hideout’s attorneys on Tuesday filed a request with 4th District Court notifying the judge that the town has an “opportunity to proceed with a new annexation” during the 60 days before the repeal bill becomes effective and sought a status conference with the judge to discuss.
The hearing is scheduled for Monday.
Hideout’s attorney’s wrote they did not believe the temporary restraining order the judge granted against the town ahead of the special session repeal would extend to a new annexation process, but they sought a conference with the judge to clarify.
“Hideout’s request is an attempt to clarify and remain in compliance with the court’s order,” Hideout attorneys wrote in the filing. “Hideout’s request should be granted and the court should hold a status conference to address the parties’ dispute regarding the applicability and scope of the (temporary restraining order).”
In response to a request for comment, Hideout Mayor Philip Rubin told the Deseret News in a text message that “we have no comment at this time.”
Hideout earlier this month abandoned its initial annexation process after a Zoom meeting flub botched a crucial public hearing required by state law.
A judge granted the temporary restraining order against Hideout earlier this month in a lawsuit filed by Summit County, claiming the town’s annexation effort was unlawful and made possible by “bait-and-switch” legislative maneuvering. The suit also accuses Hideout and developers Nate Brockbank and Josh Romney, son of Sen. Mitt Romney, of seeking “nothing less than to overturn decades of careful land use planning and community development with noncontiguous land in Summit County they do not own.”
Opponents of the annexation say sneaky legislative tactics legally paved the way for a “land grab” for what they worry would be another Kimball Junction-like expansion near Park City.
Fourth District Court Judge Jennifer Brown granted the temporary restraining order to “preserve the status quo” while she deliberated the case.
The repeal bill’s sponsor, Rep. Calvin Musselman, R-West Haven, said Friday he has “no idea” what’s going on in the court case between Hideout and Summit County, and the only reason the repeal bill has a 60-day effective date is because that is the “standard procedure” for bills and he wanted the repeal to be as “succinct as possible.”
“I want to be fair to everybody involved here,” Musselman said. “When I say that, I’m not saying fairness for any particular party. The repeal law affects property owners and counties throughout the state. With that in mind we wanted to do the repeal as clearly and succinctly as possible. I didn’t even know 60 days was (the time frame).”
Summit County attorneys in a court filing responding to Hideout’s request argued the spirit of the restraining order should remain intact.
“Providing notice to the court of Hideout’s intent to skirt both this court’s order and the repeal of the law with a request for a status conference is not the proper mechanism to obtain what it appears they want: Relief from the (temporary restraining order),” Summit County attorney’s wrote in a court filing.
Summit County Manager Tom Fisher said in an interview with the Deseret News on Friday Hideout’s latest move violates the “intent” of the Legislature when it repealed the annexation legislation.
“We believe the intent of the Legislature was to send a clear message that they were misled,” Fisher said. “So we’re not encouraged by the actions of Hideout to try and continue that annexation and finish it before the repeal takes effect.”
Asked what the intent was behind the repeal legislation, Musselman said he couldn’t speak for the entire Legislature, “but the intent was to repeal it to consider again the language and give others the opportunity to give input on the legislation. That is it.”
Hideout Town Councilman Kurt Shadle, when the Town Council was deliberating how to proceed after the Zoom meeting goof, urged his council colleagues to hit pause and wait for the Legislature to clarify its intent.
“I think all parties would be best served by letting the Legislature tell us what they intended or didn’t intend,” Shadle said during that meeting. “Once that happens, we’ll have a much better visibility of what our town’s rights are, and we can proceed accordingly.”
Since then, Shadle has resigned from his seat on the Town Council. Shadle did not return a request for comment Friday.
Fisher, and Summit County attorneys in their filing, pointed to Shadle’s resignation as a “telling” development. So did Park City Mayor Andy Beerman, who has been a vocal critic of Hideout’s annexation, in a post Thursday on Facebook about Hideout’s moves to restart their annexation, accusing Hideout officials and developers of wanting to “brazenly race forward before the repeal is enacted.”
“At least one of their Council members, Kurt Shadle, had the integrity to resign over this foolish plan,” Beerman posted. “I hope the rest of them come to their senses and instead join us for some regional planning.”
The Deseret News last month uncovered how the legislation thatallowed Hideout’s annexation without permission from any of the surrounding counties was misrepresented on the House and Senate floors.
Hideout officials, who want the development, argue they need more commercial development to employ residents of thousands of future homes already headed for construction in the region and help alleviate Park City traffic. Park City officials say the development would only aggravate traffic gridlock in the area, not help it.