Growth in the Wasatch Back and how to best address the increasing needs of residents has been a topic of discussion for years in Summit and Wasatch County. The town of Hideout’s recent vote to begin the process of annexing 655 acres of land adjacent to Park City for commercial development has brought that discussion back into the spotlight.
Park City Municipal strongly objected to the July 9 vote by the Hideout Town Council to pursue the annexation of 655 acres of land East of Park City around the area known as Richardson Flat.
Park City Mayor Andy Beerman told KPCW that Park City’s interest in the Richardson Flat area -- which does fall outside of Park City’s boundaries -- comes from a land deal brokered in the early 2000s to develop the Empire Pass area of Deer Valley that included the Montage and surrounding subdivisions. Beerman said the deal included an understanding that the Richardson Flat area would remain development free.
“Essentially, part of the consideration for them to get more density up at the Montage and those homes was that the land owned by United Park City Mines out at Richardson Flat would not be developed,” he said.
Hideout Mayor Phil Rubin told KPCW on Tuesday that Hideout’s move to annex the land for development was a proactive one in response to the expected growth in the region in the coming years. It is possible that upwards of 20,000 residential units could eventually be built around Jordanelle in the future. Rubin said allowing Hideout and the surrounding communities to become self-sufficient will help relieve some of the crowding problems currently experienced in Park City and the surrounding areas.
Hideout’s 2019 annexation policy plan included the land around Richardson Flat.
Park City Councilmember Max Doilney disagrees and said despite the expected growth around the Jordanelle Reservoir in the next several years, simply building more services should not be seen as the only option to meet growing demand. Doilney has spent nearly his whole life in Park City and has seen the area’s growth first hand.
“I think that you don’t build your way out of a growth problem," said Doilney. "You should plan in a smarter way. My whole life I’ve been having conversations with my father, who is a developer, about the detrimental impacts of sprawl and sprawling development. I know we’re growing and we’ve been growing my whole life and I don’t begrudge the growth at all, actually. I’m OK with growth, I just think it should be done in a smart way. When I see a place like Richardson Flat dedicated to open space, boy, putting a bunch of density right out by the highway there, to me, feels like the definition of sprawl and I cannot tell you how firmly opposed to that I am.”
Mayor Beerman said although he agrees that some commercial development will be necessary to meet the demands of the Jordanelle area in the future, it should be in the center of their community and not outside of it.
“I completely agree with Hideout that they need commercial," he said. "I agree with the mayor out there that they are faced with a lot of surrounding growth and they’ve got growth of their own and that they don’t want to be entirely reliant on Park City or Kamas for commercial services. I think it makes sense for them to have commercial but that commercial ought to be in their town core. I find it insincere that they want to annex an area two miles, more than two miles, outside of their town core or town center to create commercial for their town.”
Beerman says he would be in full support of Hideout’s Town Council working with local landowners to rezone some of the land within the current town boundary for commercial development but added he cannot support the current move to annex the land around Richardson Flat.
The legislation that paved the way for Hideout’s annexation plans, known as Utah House Bill 359, is currently under scrutiny by state lawmakers and may be repealed during a special session of the Utah Legislature in August.
A town hall meeting in Hideout to present the plans for the Richardson Flat area is scheduled for August 4 and an official public hearing on the annexation will be held by the Hideout Town Council on August 12.