Summit County Fires New Legal Volley At Hideout Town Annexation
Summit County has filed a new lawsuit against the town of Hideout—this one aimed specifically at the Town Council’s action of October 16th, approving an annexation into Summit County and a Development Agreement for the annexed property.
The litigation, filed in Fourth District Court in Wasatch County, alleges the annexation is violating the state’s Open and Public Meetings Act, legal requirements for a Land Use Regulation, and other items.
Summit County’s lawsuit, filed on Nov. 20th, contended that Hideout’s first annexation attempt this summer also violated state laws. But rather than learn from those mistakes, the suit says, the town has doubled down on preventing public input on its annexation of 350 acres near Richardson Flat.
The suit says that Hideout, developer Nate Brockbank, and other parties are continuing a “scheme and artifice” to defeat the county’s zoning laws.
The county alleges, as it has before, that Hideout and its supporters got a bill passed in the last legislative session, allowing the town to carry out a hostile, cherry-stem annexation into Summit County. That law was repealed in a special session, but did not expire until October 19th.
The town enacted another Resolution to Annex in early September.
The suit says that the Hideout Planning Commission held three meetings, in September and October, on a draft Master Development Agreement with Brockbank for his proposed commercial/residential
However, the Planning Commission allegedly did not give notice of a public hearing on the Agreement, nor did it hold a public hearing. When the Planning Commission forwarded a recommendation on October 5th, it did not include any language from the draft Development Agreement. The suit alleges the language was intentionally hidden from the public by Hideout Town, and only a one-page concept description was given.
A copy of the Agreement also wasn’t available to the public when the Hideout Council discussed it on October 6th.
A public hearing was noticed for October 12th. But the lawsuit alleges that the night before, the 11th, the notice was changed, saying the hearing would not take place at the Hideout Town Hall, but would be electronic. The notice did not give an anchor location, so citizens who showed up in person, the suit says, found a locked building.
It also claims that only on the 11th were instructions given how citizens could access the electronic meeting. In addition, the agenda didn’t specifically describe the property, instead just saying it was a “Public Hearing of Notice of Intent to Annex.”
Further, the suit says, while public input at the hearing was overwhelmingly against the annexation, 20 people couldn’t give comment, due to problems with the town’s format, where citizens listened to the meeting on Youtube, but had to access Zoom to comment.
Subsequent to the hearing, the county alleges, the Hideout Council had electronic meetings for four straight nights after that. Developer Brockbank and his attorney Bruce Baird were admitted to the meetings to negotiate the Development Agreement, but, the suit says, the public was not able to comment.
The litigation says that Hideout missed other legal requirements for publication. It claims that proper notice of the October 12th hearing wasn’t placed in a newspaper of general circulation for the area.
In addition, the county contends that the Annexation Ordinance of October 16th wouldn’t be legally effective until it has been published in a newspaper, or posted. The suit says the town didn’t do so before it’s enabling legislation expired on October 19th, and hasn’t done so to this date.
The suit also contends the annexation is illegal contract zoning because the town didn’t go through the proper public hearing and land use law process.
The newest litigation is in addition to three other lawsuits Summit County has filed over Hideout’s annexation proposals.