The controversial Hideout annexation of 350 acres near Richardson Flat has played out like a soap opera filmed on a moving rollercoaster over the course of 2020. Final say on the annexation will now fall to the residents of Hideout, who gathered enough signatures to force a referendum during a special election to be held on June 22, 2021. The Hideout Town Council voted 3-2 in October to approve the annexation, but developer Nate Brockbank and multiple councilors at the time supported letting voters have the final say with a referendum.

Tensions surrounding the potential annexation and planned mixed-use development on Summit County land have been high since the beginning of the process, when Hideout moved to unilaterally annex the land in Richardson Flat across county lines under the provisions of a short-lived law passed without public comment, H.B. 359. It didn’t help matters that Sen. Cullimore, who introduced the changes to H.B. 359 during a special legislative session, said the purpose of the changes had been misrepresented to him. Long story short, the whole thing reeked of impropriety, or at the very least a sneaky, special interest lobbying effort.

Park City and Summit County both lodged a series of lawsuits to block the annexation attempt, which was rescinded, altered and resurrected. There was hemming followed by hawing. Throw in a little harumphing on both sides, some accusations by opponents of the annexation and spirited defense by the annexation’s supporters, and ultimately the annexation was passed before H.B. 359’s repeal went into effect, but not without the provision for a possible voter referendum if enough signatures were gathered.

That brings us to now, where we once again are in limbo waiting to see what will happen to the land near Richardson Flat. If the annexation passes, the future holds substantial construction on the eastern edge of Summit county with a mountain of residential and commercial development. If it fails, the land will likely remain undeveloped for the foreseeable future. It’s all up to what residents of Hideout decide. Some agree the additional services are needed for the area’s growing population while others contend the underhanded process has derailed the possibility of mutually beneficial regional development and cooperation. You might as well flip a coin for a guess on how this will turn out.

At the very least we have six months to hear vociferous arguments from both sides, all of which will hopefully feature ample public input and civil, reasonable discussion. I realize that’s probably asking a lot from people in late-stage 2020. A vote, even if it’s not representative of all members of the public who will be impacted, is better than a unilateral decision-making process, so we’ve got that going for us. We will continue to update this story as things progress.

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