Developer's Attorney Says Hideout Wouldn't 'Preserve Sacred Sagebrush' in Summit County
Prior to Monday morning’s hearing on the status of Summit County’s lawsuit against the town of Hideout, an attorney for the developers behind the proposed commercial project in Richardson Flat says the builders chose to pursue the town of Hideout’s annexation of the land because their project stood little chance of approval if the land was controlled by Summit County.
The proposed North Park development includes several hundred thousand square feet of commercial and office space, as well as upward of 3,500 residential units.
The town of Hideout on the northeast shore of the Jordanelle Reservoir in Wasatch County voted to begin annexing the Richardson Flat area of Summit County on July 9 in order to greenlight the North Park project. The annexation process is currently on hold pending the lawsuit.
Bruce Baird has represented the two developers of the North Park project, Nate Brockbank and Josh Romney, for the last three years. Baird told KPCW last week that encouraging the Hideout annexation was the preferable course of action for the builders because of what he called “anti-development” control of Summit County government.
“We believe that Hideout is the appropriate place because they’re a city that understands reasonable development and has concerns greater than just preserving what I call ‘sacred sagebrush,’” he said.
The developers had submitted an application to Summit County to amend the Snyderville Basin general plan in January. The Richardson Flat area is currently designated as open space. Brockbank and Romney were hoping to begin the process of rezoning the land to mixed-use for the North Park project. The request was scheduled to be heard by the planning commission in July but was withdrawn just prior to the Hideout Town Council’s vote to begin annexing the land.
Hideout took advantage of a controversial piece of legislation that was passed at the end of the 2020 general session of the Utah State Legislature, known as House Bill 359, in order to make the move. An amendment added to the bill allows municipalities in Utah to annex unincorporated land without consent from the affected counties. House Bill 359 will be re-examined by the Legislature during a special session on Aug. 20 and may be repealed.
Baird says he and his clients were involved in the legislative process behind House Bill 359. He says the plans for the land have stayed the same but the developers saw an easier path to construction through dealing with Hideout over Summit County.
“I would note that the plan we’re proposing is not very different than the plan we were proposing potentially in Summit County before 359 and 5004 were passed,” he said. “It’s just far more likely to get approved in Hideout than in Summit County because Hideout isn’t as susceptible to the pitchforks and torches.”
Summit County Community Development Director Pat Putt says in order for county land to be redesignated for commercial development, the Snyderville Basin general plan should match the basin’s official zoning map. Putt says the basin’s general plan is used to help determine the best places for development in order to guide future zoning changes.
Putt says in order for the North Park development to gain approval through Summit County, both the general plan and the zoning map would have to be changed to allow development in Richardson Flat.
“The official zoning map of the Snyderville Basin is really the controlling document,” Putt said. “But see, where it’s important is if we’re going to change our zoning map that establishes uses -- what and how much -- it has to be consistent with our general plan.”