Hideout Town Council, In Split Vote, Approves Annexation Into Summit County

Oct 17, 2020

Credit Hideout Utah

Meeting late into the night Friday, the Hideout Town Council on a 3-2 vote approved an annexation into Summit County of 350 acres near Richardson Flat.

That came after Nate Brockbank, the prospective developer of the annexation, offered three significant changes to his agreement with the city.  Those include putting the development up to a possible referendum vote next June.    Brockbank also offered to build a Town Hall and Community Center in the project.

Following that, the Council unanimously voted to authorize their Mayor to enter into a Master Development Agreement with Brockbank.  

The Hideout Council’s electronic meeting stretched past 11:30.  

Ultimately, the annexation was supported by Council members Chris Baier, Jerry Dwinell and Ralph Severini.    Voting against were Carol Haselton and Robert Nadelberg.

The two dissenters later joined in the unanimous vote for the Development Agreement—given, they said, that the first vote went for annexation and there were changes made to the Agreement.         

The Council began with two hours tweaking and word-smithing on the development document.

After that, it appeared the tide was rolling against annexation, given the initial comments from four of the Council Members.

They agreed that Brockbank presented an attractive plan for his development, called Silver Meadows.

But they said the optics of the town’s annexation process had been flawed.    They said an apparent forced annexation into Summit County had been enabled by a state law passed last spring, reportedly based on misrepresentations to legislators.     The repeal of that law takes effect next Tuesday, October 20th.

Council Member Haselton said they weren’t in a position to make a good decision.     

“I believe we have rushed through this process of attempted annexation in an extremely compressed time frame.  We were unable to do the necessary due diligence and studies, which I think is irresponsible.  The majority of our constituency of local Hideout residents and neighbors have clearly spoken out against this annexation, and we need to take that into consideration.  And for me, most distressingly, I hope we have not, but we may have alienated Summit County, Park City, Wasatch County to a point where there will never be the necessary regional planning that is so desperately needed in this section of the Wasatch Back.”

Council Member Jerry Dwinell said he was hopeful that Summit County and Park City representatives will keep their word to engage with Hideout on regional planning.     He said he’s still uneasy, but “I guess I’m looking for the better angels.”

However,  Council Member Chris Baier disagreed with her colleagues.    She said that without the annexation, Summit County and Park City won’t ever let them develop in that area.

Her suspicion, she said, is that Summit County and Park City want to continue using the Richardson Flat Superfund site as a repository for their mine wastes, rather than the costly alternative of hauling the tailings away to Tooele or other locations.    Baier said if a commercial/residential center is built near Richardson Flat, it’s more likely that the EPA will soon cap and retire the site.      

“And therefore, we’re actually stopping the continued, I’m gonna call it pollution of the soils there with just more mine tailings.  And I urge you to think hard about that.  And try to connect the dots, why Summit County and Park City would be so vehemently against this, for us trying to get this small amount of density and a small amount of commercial to help our city.  I want you to think about that hard, and the motivations that are unspoken or undiscovered.”

She said Hideout Town has a small, legal window of opportunity to pursue annexation, and otherwise they will lose that chance forever.

Mayor Phil Rubin didn’t have a vote on annexation, but he said they’re trying to plan for the prospect that 20,000 units approved by Wasatch County will be built around Jordanelle.     

“And we don’t have to get 20,000.  If we get 10,000 new homes in here, it’s Sundance every day.   We went after this with a goal of trying to bring solutions for the reason, again, we just talked about, that we think we can reduce traffic.   We think we could tie into the transportation network.   We think we could provide some housing at different price points that are desperately needed for this space.  It’s unfortunate that our efforts to try and address problems bigger than Hideout have been viewed by community at large as some kind of aggressive, selfish process.   I’ve stated before, and I’ll go on record again, that is not what drove us.”

Rubin added that without annexation, he’d bet that something will happen around Richardson Flat in the next 5 to 8 years—but it won’t be Hideout’s project.

In his remarks, Nate Brockbank urged the Council to be guided by a referendum vote next year, rather than last Monday’’s public hearing which showed overwhelming opposition from the speakers.

In recent months, he said that he, and the Council members too, have been unfairly vilified and branded as dishonest.    He told them annexation is the only way to get the attention of the city and county.      

“The way you get a seat at the table is you annex this property, and you go to them and you say, “We are in this property.  We want to work with you guys.  Let’s work”  You think they’re gonna listen to you if you don’t go to the table, you don’t have anything at the table.  I don’t think so.  There’s things in place.  Hey, if the community doesn’t like this, it can be put on the ballot in June and let them decide.  Let them decide.  I’ve been to 5-or-6-hundred meetings in my life.  No one comes and says positive things, even if it’s a good development.”

The prospect of a referendum eventually won over Council Member Ralph Severini.      But he said Brockbank hadn’t done enough to sell his vision to the community.     He urged the developer to also talk to the surrounding neighborhoods, like Park’s Edge, even though they can’t vote in a referendum.

At this point, there’s actually no referendum effort being organized.   Hideout Town can’t do it.   But Council Members said it’s likely that opponents within the town will launch an effort.     Town Attorney Polly McLean said legally it has to have five sponsors and must get signatures from 35 percent of the town’s population.

Literally at the eleventh hour, language was added to the Development Agreement saying it “shall not take effect until after the results of a referendum, if any, are certified.”

Council Member Dwinell, who also joined the Yes column, said his major concern was that the project must have a new road connection to Highway 248, rather than have the traffic impacts loaded onto Richardson Flat Road.

Dwinell is also concerned whether there is angle parking allowed on the Road, which will bisect the Town Center.

Brockbank agreed to add a provision saying that issues about the road connection and parking must be resolved to the Town’s satisfaction by a certain date.    If they aren’t, the Development Agreement will be null and void.

The deadline date was set at Sept. 1st, 2021.

Before the annexation vote was taken, Haselton said she felt like they were being bombarded at the last minute by the developer and his attorney, Bruce Baird.

Nadelberg said he had similar reservations.      

“And I just feel like we’re rushing this.  This is getting ridiculous.  I don’t even have the words.  What I would like to see happen is we go through a more traditional process.   There’s no guarantee that we can get this development done if we do that, I understand that.  But I really think we’re rushing this too fast, and we’re asking for trouble.”

Hideout Council Member Robert Nadelberg.

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