Hideaway residents claim developer is damaging private roads

Editor’s note: This is the second article in a multi-part series about land and development issues in the Indianola Valley.

By Emily Olsen, June 6, 2022, Sanpete Messenger
Sanpete County, Utah

HIDEAWAY VALLEY — When the Hideaway Valley subdivision was establishes by developer Fred Smith in 1980, the plat documents showed the roads within the subdivision were private and would be maintained by a homeowner’s association (HOA).

Ownership of Hideaway Valley, located on the east side of U.S. 89, has changed hands over the years. But Fred Smith’s family has continued to own most of Blackhawk Mountain Estates, a different subdivision, and other land around Hideaway Valley.

When Fred Smith passed away in 2018, his son Jamison Smith, who is also a developer, inherited Blackhawk Mountain Estates and began planning development of homes north and east of Hideaway Valley. But in doing so, he has been illegally using private roads in Hideaway Valley, despite Hideaway Valley residents telling him not to.

“They are bringing in dump trucks, which is a huge liability,” said George Blank, not his real name, who is a resident of Hideaway Valley. He spoke to the Sanpete Messenger on the condition of anonymity because of fear of retribution from Jamison Smith.

Hideaway Valley is accessed from U.S. 89 at Snail Hollow Drive, but as the road splits and Meadow View Drive veers north, it becomes private. The gravel roads in Hideaway Valley are not designed for the heavy construction equipment that Smith’s company is using to build access roads and a lake at Blackhawk Mountain Estates.

The wear and tear to the roads has required the Hideaway Valley HOA to spend thousands of dollars more than in the past on the maintenance of their roads, Blank said.

The access problem is a civil matter that the Sanpete County Offices will not be involved with, said Tim Wilson, zoning enforcement officer.

In recent years, Smith’s company has built at least three roads that can only be accessed from the east and north sides of Hideaway Valley.

The roads have been built quickly, have not been graded with road base or gravel, and workers have left dead trees and brush along the roadside, which is a fire hazard.

Wildfires are on the milds of nearly every Indianola Valley resident because of the 2020 fires that burned along the mountain ridge southeast of Hideway Valley. The fires also impacted several Indianola Valley residents on the west side of U.S. 89.

One of the roads that Smith has built is accessible from U.S. 89, but it is a hazard along the 86-mile-an-hour zone without a turn lane on the highway. At one point, Utah Department of Transportation planned to block access to the road from the highway.

But before UDOT could carry out the physical block, Gov. Spencer Cox himself stepping in and declared that the Jamison Smith roads were for agriculture access, said Gary Mitchell, zoning administrator for Sanpete County.

UDOT was not able to confirm or deny this account, a UDOT spokesperson said.

Despite this approval of access from U.S. 89, Smith has continued to bring in his heavy equipment through Hideaway Valley, possibly because the road he built branching off from U.S. 89 is mountainous and steep in some places.

Smith’s company is actively showing lots in three of the Blackhawk Mountain Estates subdivisions, some of which are only accessible through Hideaway Valley’s private roads.

More quickly made roads through portions of Blackhawk Mountain Estates are accessed from Hideaway Valley roads, but the unwelcome road access blocks ditches created alongside Hideaway Valley roads, and last winter, contributed to a flash flood when the community experienced a heavy downpour. Because the ditches were blocked, water flooded the road and the barn of a Hideaway resident, causing thousands of dollars of damage to equipment that was stored there, Blank said.

Hideaway Valley neighbors added a culvert to protect the ditch. More recently, they have added new, deeper ditches, along with cinder blocks, to prevent Smith’s company or his customers from traveling on their private roads.

Two of the three plats that Smith is presently marketing, including Plats G and H (see map), do not have legal access, which is a requirement for the subdivision and a problem that will need to be rectified, Wilson said.

In addition to Sanpete, Smith’s company has developed subdivisions in Washington, Utah, Wasatch, Summit and Tooele counties, as well as out of state.

Presently, the company is working with the county and the State Division of Water Rights regarding the required permitting for the proposed lake and dam at Blackhawk Mountain Estates.

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