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Utah Legislature Repeals Controversial Amendment to House Bill 359 in Special Session

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The Utah Legislature voted to repeal the controversial language in House Bill 359 on Thursday afternoon. An amendment added to House Bill 359 during the Legislature’s 2020 general session allowed the town of Hideout to annex the Richardson Flat land in Summit County without the county’s consent.

 

The Utah Legislature acted swiftly on Thursday to repeal the controversial language in House Bill 359 that briefly allowed municipalities in Utah to annex unincorporated land without consent from the affected counties. The new legislation is called House Bill 6007 and passed with near-unanimous support from both the Utah House and Senate.

 

House Bill 6007 passed the House with a 65-10 vote and the Senate 28-1, with only Senator Dan McCay of Riverton voting no.

 

House Bill 359 was originally written to address a specific circumstance in a different part of the state and its substitute amendment faced allegations of misrepresentation during the legislative process. These allegations led lawmakers to reconsider the legislation during Thursday’s special session.

 

The town of Hideout in Wasatch County used the amended bill to vote to begin the annexation process of 655 acres of land in Summit County, known as Richardson Flat, without Summit County’s consent on July 9th. Summit County sued Hideout over the annexation move in late July and the Hideout Town Council voted to repeal their annexation plans on August 14th. A ruling on the lawsuit is currently pending in Utah’s 4th District Court.

 

Summit County Manager Tom Fisher told KPCW Thursday’s repeal will be to the benefit of counties across the state.

 

“Certainly the action by the legislature to repeal was certainly something we were looking for, not only for ourselves, but for other counties around the state because we thought there was some unintended consequences to that substitute that was offered during the regular session and adopted,” he said.

 

Hideout originally moved to annex the Richardson Flat land for use as a commercial development area for the town. Hideout officials say the town is in need of services to address the expected growth around the Jordanelle Reservoir in the coming years. Fisher extended an olive branch to Hideout on Thursday and said Summit County is looking forward to working with Hideout on land-use matters in the future.

 

“The town of Hideout, also, in some of their open meetings in the last couple of weeks, certain members of their town council have expressed a willingness to work on these specific issues that were brought forth by this annexation that they were expressing,” Fisher said. “We look forward to really working on those with them as we get past this current situation.”

 

In a text message to KPCW on Thursday evening, Hideout Mayor Phil Rubin said the town is disappointed but believes their efforts brought awareness to the need for goods, services, and affordable housing in the Jordanelle area. Rubin added the town is looking forward to working with the various parties involved in order to meet those needs.

 

KPCW learned late on Thursday that a ruling on Summit County’s lawsuit against Hideout that was originally scheduled for Friday, August 21st has been postponed. Hideout is arguing the lawsuit is now moot based on the town’s repeal of their original annexation resolution on August 14th. Summit County has until August 28th to respond, according to the court order.

 

House Bill 6007 will become law in 60 days. To read the full bill, please click here.