The town of Hideout can move forward with a proposal to annex into Summit County.
A ruling Thursday afternoon from Fourth District Court Judge Jennifer Brown turned down Summit County’s request to halt the plan; or to find the town in contempt of court, for its second attempt to annex land in the Richardson Flat area.
The judge’s ruling came just a few hours before a scheduled special Hideout Council meeting. However, due to technical problems with the electronic meeting, the Council put off an annexation decision, re-scheduling that for Friday night at 7 p.m.
The Hideout Town Council passed a Resolution of Intent to Annex in July, which brought legal action from Summit County, including allegations that the town had violated Open Meetings law.
That led to Judge Brown issuing a Preliminary Injunction against the town.
But on Thursday, the Judge said she did not intend to preclude the town from making another attempt, as long as a law is still in effect allowing Hideout to adversely annex into Summit County.
The law, HB 359, was passed in the waning days of last spring’s Legislative session. Although it was repealed in a special session this summer, the repeal doesn’t take effect until next Tuesday, October 20th.
In her ruling, Judge Brown acknowledged there has been “a lot of noise” about what was intended with the repeal. Hideout advocates said the intent of the two-month-window was to allow the town to try again, which they did by passing another Resolution to Annex on September 10th.
Summit County objected to that, citing the reported statements of legislators about their intentions.
However, Judge Brown said she relied on the plain language of the law, and said the legislature could have repealed HB 359 immediately if they wanted to.
The Judge also ruled that Hideout’s second annexation attempt is not a violation of her earlier Preliminary Injunction. She said the second annexation is significantly different and omits many parcels involved in the July proposal. She also said the September proposed annexation appears to respond to many of the county’s concerns.
The county also argued that in this situation, there is no cure for the town’s alleged violation of Open Meetings Law.
However, Judge Brown said that law is intended to allow the public to hear about, and comment on, government actions.
She noted a public hearing was held on Monday, the 12th. And although opinions about the annexation were overwhelmingly opposed, she said, the Hideout Council isn’t required to comply with that consensus.
Asked by KPCW for a comment, County Attorney Margaret Olson wrote back, “This is far, far from over.”