HIDEOUT, Wasatch County — After a 4 1/2 hour meeting, and with several conditions and caveats, the Hideout Town Council voted 3-2 late Friday to annex 350 acres east of Park City.
"I think we may have reached the right balance at this point of protecting ourselves and being able to move forward," said Councilwoman Chris Baier, who joined with Ralph Severini and Jerry Dwinell in voting to approve the annexation.
It was Baier's argument that helped sway Severini and Dwinell to vote for the annexation, which she argued the town needs to support its growing population.
Hideout officials spent the first two hours of the meeting reviewing a scaled down version of a development first proposed this summer, when they voted to annex about 655 acres. However, legal challenges from Park City and Summit County resulted in a judge blocking that annexation, and the Utah Legislature repealing the law allowing this type of annexation.
That repeal is set to go into effect Monday, so Hideout officials had to decide if they wanted to make a second attempt at a revamped annexation or try and work with Summit County officials on a plan to provide more commercial development to serve the community of about 8,000 residents. Park City and Summit County have been fighting to keep the area as open space.
The first four council members said they liked the development plans, but felt the rushed timeline didn't allow for the development to be adequately studied, including traffic plans and access to new housing developments.
"I think we have gotten so far into the weeds, I don't think even a 9-iron can get us out of here," said Councilman Bob Nadelberg as the meeting approached 11:45 p.m. "We need to move forward and get a vote. ... I feel like we're rushing this. It's ridiculous. We need to go through a more traditional process."
To do otherwise, he said, would be "asking for trouble."
Dwinell and Severini expressed more confidence that they could work with Summit County officials. But Baier, who spoke last, said she shared some of her colleagues' concerns with the process and the need for further study of certain issues, but she felt less confident that Summit County would work with them to develop the land in the way Hideout envisioned.
"Currently, an annexation across county lines, without the approval of that county, is legal," she said. "Going back to the project itself, I'm a little disappointed we couldn't get more commercial and mixed use in there. I do agree with my council members who have said we really need more time to study the things we don't know."
She continued, "But I'm going to say this. I'm not as optimistic as the rest of my fellow council members about the realities of regional planning. I, based on my experiences and conversations and study, do not believe that Summit County intends to allow Hideout to ever willingly develop this property in Richardson Flats."
She said she felt their only hope to be able to develop the area was to "take this small window" and annex the 350 acres.
Initially, Dwinell said he was "a little more hopeful" that Summit County would work with them in developing that area.
"I guess I'm looking for the better angels here," he said. "And hopefully that regional planning is not a myth. It's something we can participate in, and something that we can participate in, and something that can drive us forward to solutions that we desperately need. And there's no doubt we desperately need some of these solutions."
Hideout Mayor Philip Rubin then spoke in favor of the annexation, even though he didn't have a vote.
"We went after this with a goal of trying to bring a solution for ... the things we just talked about," he said. "We think that we can reduce traffic, that we could tie into the transportation network, that 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 the community at large as some kind aggressive, selfish process."
He called the developer's plan a "great project" and then added, "I'm with Chris. ... I don't think you can sit at the card table if you don't have cards."
Developer Nate Brockbank then offered a lengthy statement, much of which focused on defending his intentions and desire to participate in a thorough study process. He then offered to build both the town hall and community center at no cost as part of the development.
"Because I believe in it," Brockbank said. "I've worked ... for this to give you guys a chance to survive and be a viable community for the rest of the town of Hideout's life."
Dwinell defended the town's decision early in the meeting, even as he expressed doubts about whether or not he should support annexation.
"Our intent has always been to benefit the region," Dwinell said.
After the vote to annex the property passed, the council worked with its attorney to add several stipulations to the agreement with Brockbank's company. Among those was a caveat that if "issues regarding the 248 connection and parking along Richardson Flat road cannot be resolved by April 16, 2021," then the annexation and master development agreement shall be null and void.
"The parcel would still be annexed," Dwinell said. "There wouldn't be any development under this AMDA."
They also said the development agreement "shall not take effect until after the results of a referendum, if any, are certified."
While council members Carol Haselton and Bob Nadelberg voted against the annexation, they voted for the development agreement, which passed unanimously.
"I think these three new additions really favor the town well, and it solves the concerns that I had," said Dwinell.
"We have moved in relative lightning speed to get where we are today," said Baier, acknowledging concerns about the need for more information on several aspects of the development. "We have done six months of work in the matter of weeks, just because we applied ourselves. ... For me tonight. I know this is a good project. For me tonight ... I was not decided until I saw the final AMDA that was presented. It is very favorable for Hideout."
After the votes, the mayor ended with, "Rest well, it's going to be an exciting future, for sure."