Meeting in a work session Tuesday night, the Hideout Town Council responded to a stream of criticism from Monday night’s public meeting about Hideout’s possible annexation into Summit County.
Council members acknowledged some of the reasons behind the complaints, they also deplored the attacks that took a nasty personal tone, including, reportedly, harassment outside the Mayor’s house.
The public hearing concerned a possible annexation of 350 acres near Richardson Flat, where developer Nate Brockbank wants to create a mixed commercial/residential project. Of about three dozen speakers, the vast majority were against the plan.
Hideout Council member Chris Baier said there was a “public clamor” in opposition, some unproductive attacks and even a letter, she said, calling them immoral.
In particular, she said it was difficult to hear Park City resident Rich Wyman say their process was amateurish. She said they’re a small town with a part-time council. “Yeah, if you want to know how we operate, we’re only a 1000-person town,” said Baier. “We’re not Summit County. We’re not Park City. We don’t have huge budgets and a ton of money coming in. We are not council members who make between $23,000 a year plus $20,000 in benefits, for Park City. Summit County, they’re making $32-38,000 a year. They’ve got a County Manager who makes a ton of money.” She said the Hideout council members are paid $50 a meeting, and they’re putting that back into the city coffers.
Mayor Phil Rubin noted that anonymous callers have tried to disrupt their electronic meetings. To deflect that, the town has directed citizens to listen to the meetings on YouTube. “We have received a significant amount of harassment, as we’ve tried to work with the public process, through Zoom bombing and the like,” Rubin said. “My family has been harassed. There were people outside my house again last night, making noise and thinking that I’m working from home, instead of the office.”
The Mayor said some people think they can get what they want through bullying. “And I want to go on record as saying that, that’s not gonna work. We’re gonna run this process the way it needs to be. We’re gonna listen to the rational heads. You can keep putting up signs and throwing stuff at us all you want. But it’s not gonna solve anything, except make us angry. Sorry I had to say that, because I’m really particularly upset about people coming to my home.”
Brockbank’s attorney, Bruce Baird, using some colorful language, sympathized with the council, and said he had his own personal history with public clamor.
Baird said 40 years ago, his father, mayor of a small Colorado town, decided to schedule a major infrastructure project for two disruptive years, instead of dragging it out for a decade. Baird said as a youngster, he remembered the citizens protested and harassed his family. Then when the improvements were done, cheered his father. “And all those people who are Zoom bombing you and porn bombing you—I sent the Mayor a link that said porn bombing , zoom bombing is not just a joke. It’s a crime. All those sons o’ bitches should have been taken out and shot. And I’m sorry for being blunt…..no, I’m not”
Town Council Member Carol Haselton noted that on Monday, all the Hideout residents who spoke were against the proposal. However, Council Member Jerry Dwinell thought they didn’t object to the annexation per se, but the way the city went about it.
Chris Baier said that in hindsight, they could have done more to involve their residents. “More educating them what our policy directions are, also getting them involved, I do think they were taken by surprise, just as Summit County was taken by surprise and Park City and others, when we made the decision to go forward, ‘cause we saw this as an opportunity to be able to enact our policy goals. Yeh, I think we definitely made, really ruffled a lot of feathers. And I can tell you, as a community member, that wasn’t actually our intent. It was definitely something that I would say we wish we could have done differently. If we could turn back time, but we can’t.”
When the Town Council voted in early September to reboot the annexation effort, Haselton was the dissenting vote, who said she wanted to pursue regional planning. Other council members said they want that too. Haselton said it was encouraging on Monday that critics called for pursuing regional cooperation.
Attorney Baird said the final vote to approve a Development Agreement could come as late as Thursday. He said that hopefully he can get Haselton’s vote too. “‘Cause regional planning is only gonna happen if you’ve got a gun at their head. That’s my editorial comment.”