Decision on Summit County vs Hideout to Be Handed Down August 14th
A decision on the Summit County lawsuit against the town of Hideout over the annexation of Richardson Flat will be handed down on Friday. Monday’s hearing in Utah’s 4th District Court lasted all day.
After a marathon hearing that lasted a full 12 hours, Judge Jeniffer A Brown told lawyers for Summit County and Hideout that she would not be able to render her decision until Friday, Aug.14th.
Summit County filed the lawsuit against Hideout after their July 9th town council vote to begin the process of annexing 655 acres of land in Summit County for use as a mixed-use commercial development area. Summit County was granted a temporary restraining order on Aug. 4th, blocking any further action by Hideout with regards to the Richardson Flat area. Monday’s hearing was to determine whether to dissolve the restraining order or convert it into a preliminary injunction.
Summit County alleges Hideout violated Utah’s Open Meetings Act prior to the July 9th town council meeting by holding private meetings with developer Nate Brockbank on a proposed development on the land in question. The lawsuit also alleges the town did not provide sufficient details about their plans to begin the annexation process prior to July 9th and intentionally misled the public.
Emails submitted into evidence and witness testimony showed Brockbank did meet with members of the Hideout Town Council prior to the July 9th meeting. Lawyers for Hideout argued that because these meetings were not with the full council and no official decisions were made, the Open Meetings Act was not violated.
Hideout’s lawyers also argued the town was well within its rights to act on current state law to begin the annexation process. A controversial piece of legislation, known as Utah House Bill 359, was passed in the closing hours of the 2020 Utah Legislative Session and contained an amendment allowing municipalities to annex unincorporated land without consent from the affected counties. Hideout took advantage of this legislation on July 9th and House Bill 359 may be repealed at a special session of the Legislature later in August.
After hearing closing arguments on Monday evening, Judge Brown decided that due to scheduling conflicts and the complexity of the legal arguments of the case, she would hand her decision down on Friday, Aug. 14th. The temporary restraining order will remain in place until then, although Hideout was granted permission to hold their Aug. 12th public hearing on the annexation. Hideout is not allowed to take any substantive action until Friday’s decision.
If Judge Brown does rule in Summit County’s favor on Friday, Hideout will be unable to move forward with the annexation plans before the State Legislature votes on the repeal of House Bill 359 during the Aug.20th special session. If the court rules in favor of Hideout, the town council could vote to continue the annexation process at a meeting on Aug. 18th before any action by the Legislature is taken.