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Hideout litigation likely headed for Utah Supreme Court

The Scott M. Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City is home to the Utah Supreme Court.
Leonid Andronov
The Scott M. Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City is home to the Utah Supreme Court.

A court ruling on Friday paves the way for the Utah Supreme Court to decide the legality of Hideout’s attempt to annex Richardson Flat.

The fate of Richardson Flat — or at least how that fate will be determined — got a little clearer last week. But whether the sagebrush and hillsides will turn into Hideout’s new town center or remain undeveloped will probably be uncertain for years.

4th District Judge Jennifer Brown on Friday issued multiple rulings in a lawsuit between Summit County and Hideout. The rulings, coming 20 months after Hideout first tried to annex Richardson Flat, prepare the litigation to be heard by an appeals court.

Developer Nate Brockbank is proposing to build hundreds of residences, a new town center and some business on 350 acres of Richardson Flat east of the large park-and-ride lot. Summit County, meanwhile, wants to see the land remain open space — or at least control how it’s developed.

Richardson Flat has been at the center of multiple recent lawsuits and annexation attempts. The land is in Summit County but the Wasatch County town of Hideout attempted to annex it without the county’s consent nearly two years ago. If Hideout annexes the land, the town controls how it's used. Hideout has already approved Brockbank’s development proposal, which Summit County sued successfully to stop.

The Utah Supreme Court appears poised to bypass the Utah Court of Appeals to take the case directly. The court issued an order saying it would be inclined to decide the merits of the case and Friday’s ruling clears an administrative hurdle for that to happen.

Brown ruled last summer that Hideout’s annexation was void. On Friday, she declined the town’s request to stay that decision. But she made clear her intent was to preserve Hideout’s rights if an appeals court determines the annexation is valid.

In the meantime, Hideout is barred from taking steps to develop the land, including issuing building permits or changing the land’s zoning.

Brown’s initial ruling was based on one of the five claims Summit County made in a lawsuit filed last November. Brown ruled on Friday that the other four claims were moot, providing the finality needed for the case to be appealed.

Brown said if an appeals court overturns her finding that the annexation was void, that would also overturn her ruling that the other claims were moot. That sets up the possibility that those other four claims will be heard once again in 4th District Court.

Attorneys associated with the case have estimated an appeal could take 18 months.

Alexander joined KPCW in 2021 after two years reporting on Summit County for The Park Record. While there, he won many awards for covering issues ranging from school curriculum to East Side legacy agriculture operations to land-use disputes. He arrived in Utah by way of Madison, Wisconsin, and western Massachusetts, with stints living in other areas across the country and world. When not attending a public meeting or trying to figure out what a PID is, Alexander enjoys skiing, reading and watching the Celtics.