Judge's Ruling in Hideout Annexation Lawsuit Delayed Until One Day Before Referendum
Opposing attorneys for Summit County and the town of Hideout made oral arguments before a Fourth District Judge Monday.
The hearing could determine the fate of Summit County’s lawsuit, asking the judge to strike down the Wasatch County town’s annexation into the Richardson Flat area near Park City last October.
While a decision was set for this week, Judge Jennifer Brown rescheduled her oral ruling for June 21—one day before the town’s referendum on the annexation, in which ballots have already been mailed to registered voters.
Brown considered dueling motions from Summit County and Hideout asking her to grant summary judgment in their respective fabor.
Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson told the court that Hideout did not complete the legal process to authorize the annexation before a crucial deadline.
The Hideout Town Council, in a meeting on Oct. 16, stretching almost to midnight, voted to annex 350 acres.
But only a few days later on Oct. 20, the state law that enabled Hideout to carry out an adverse annexation into Summit County was repealed.
Olson said the annexation wasn’t officially enacted until Oct. 26 and a certificate of annexation from Utah lieutenant governor’s office wasn’t issued until Oct. 28. Therefore, she says, the move was never valid.
In response, Hideout’s attorney Robert Mansfield alleged that the Town Council only had to “adopt” the annexation before Oct. 20.
Meanwhile, Hideout asked for summary judgment in its favor for a number of reasons. Among those, Mansfield said Summit County doesn’t have standing to bring the lawsuit.
He argued that Summit County lost its land-use authority over the property in dispute. Mansfield said Summit’s authority is over unincorporated land, and that land has now been annexed into Hideout.
“That’s the life of a county,” Mansfield said.
He also said that Summit has no authority under Utah land-use law to file a lawsuit against a city’s annexation. Mansfield said the Summit County Attorney has no authority in Wasatch County and that Summit can’t file as a private person.
In response, Deputy Summit County Attorney Jami Brackin said the county government constitutes an affected party since the land annexed by Hideout is in Summit County. She said under the county’s land-use law, they have the authority to remove an illegal act, and if no other remedy is available, they can go to court.
Brackin also said they have standing on an issue that has great public interest in Summit and Wasatch counties concerning the county’s ability to manage growth in a world-class ski area.
Judge Brown’s ruling was set for Tuesday. But the judge said her work has been delayed by technical issues at the court.
She acknowledged that pushes the decision right up against the referendum on June 22. But, she said, “it seems as though that’s been the way we’ve had to deal with things in this case.”
The ruling on Monday, June 21 is set for 8:15 a.m.