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Judge Hears Arguments On Validity Of Hideout Annexation

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Fourth District Court Judge Jennifer Brown is scheduled to issue a ruling in mid-October that could be crucial for the town of Hideout and its plans to annex into Summit County.

Both sides argued before the judge last Thursday.

Judge Brown’s decision is set for October 14th—coincidentally, almost a year to the day after Hideout Town’s annexation, which it undertook without Summit County’s consent.   

On October 16, 2020, Hideout’s council voted to annex 350 acres into Summit County, near Richardson Flat. Three days later, House Bill 359, the legislation that allowed the Hideout annexation, officially expired.

Summit County quickly sued, arguing that Hideout had not completed the legal process to authorize its annexation until after the deadline.    Judge Brown agreed, striking down the town’s annexation ordinance in a decision on June 22nd.

However, at last Thursday’s hearing, Hideout attorney Robert Mansfield said everything the town did last October was legal at the time they did it.

House Bill 359, passed during the Utah legislative session in the spring of 2020, allowed Hideout to annex into a neighboring county without that county’s consent.     Mansfield argued that not only was HB 359 valid at the time of Hideout’s annexation, but the legislation specifically stripped away Summit County’s right to protest.

In effect, Mansfield said, Summit County had no legal standing to file suit against the town.

Meanwhile, Summit County got the legislature to change course.    In a special session in the summer of 2020, the county successfully campaigned to get HB 359 repealed.    However, the repeal didn’t take effect until October 19th of 2020.     

On Thursday, Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson contended that Hideout was required to properly enact the annexation, and to obtain a certificate of annexation from the Lieutenant Governor’s office.     She said those two steps were not accomplished until after the repeal of HB 359 took effect.

Furthermore, Deputy County Attorney Jami Brackin told the court there are several reasons the county can challenge the annexation.

She said the annexed land is within Summit’s jurisdiction; the county is the owner of neighboring property; and it is adversely affected.   Brackin said that Hideout won’t have the capacity to supply the annexed area with police, fire or EMT services, so that obligation will fall legally on Summit County.

She also said there was great public interest in Hideout’s conduct, and how HB 359 was passed on Capitol Hill.   Brackin said the bill was “an ill-advised, short-term legislative effort” and she said legislators swiftly repealed 359 when they realized it wasn’t what they intended.

But attorney Mansfield objected, saying that Hideout and Summit County played the same game at the legislature.     He said that Hideout urged legislators to approve HB 359, and then Summit County “lobbied the heck out of them” to repeal the bill.

Hideout has said it plans to build a commercial and residential development, to be called Silver Meadows, on the annexed land. If Judge Brown rules that the land isn’t Hideout’s to develop, the town will need to revisit its expansion plans.

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