Morgan County, Wasatch Peaks Ranch reps seek dismissal of suit
MORGAN — Morgan County and Wasatch Peaks Ranch officials are taking another approach in their push to halt the suit filed by foes of the housing and resort development proposal.
In a motion filed last week just before a bench trial, Morgan County Attorney Garrett Smith called on 2nd District Court Judge Noel Hyde to dismiss the lawsuit, the latest twist in the simmering case. The residents are suing over the 2019 Morgan County Clerk’s Office decision rejecting their petition aimed at forcing a ballot question on the plans for the sprawling Wasatch Peak development.
The lawsuit “should be dismissed because the current Morgan County Clerk, Leslie A. Hyde, is not a party to this action,” Smith wrote in a follow-up legal brief filed Tuesday.
The suit, when originally filed on Nov. 27, 2019, named then-Morgan County Clerk Stacy Clark along with Morgan County as defendants, but Smith noted that Clark has since been replaced by Leslie Hyde, sworn-in as Morgan County clerk on Jan. 4, 2022. Per Utah Rules of Civil Procedure, the Morgan County residents who filed the suit are required to substitute Hyde for Clark in the suit, Smith argues.
“Petitioners have not moved to substitute Ms. Clark’s successor as a party much less made the necessary showing for continuing this action. And, the time to do so lapsed almost a year ago. Therefore, this action must abate,” Smith wrote in the April 18 brief.
The Morgan County residents behind the suit haven’t yet filed a response and their legal reps didn’t immediately respond to calls Wednesday seeking comment.
But Cindy Carter, who has aided the residents and testified in the bench trial last week, noted that the judge in the case has rejected prior bids for dismissal sought by Morgan County and Wasatch Peaks reps.
“In my humble opinion, they’ve done everything possible to cost us as much money as they possibly can in attorneys fees,” Carter said. “It’s super frustrating.”
Despite the new filing, Hyde allowed testimony in the bench trial in the case last week to proceed as planned. Both sides presented witnesses, though Carter said they haven’t yet made closing arguments.
Carter said Hyde, the judge, will first rule on the dismissal motion after all the briefs in the matter are filed. If he rules in Morgan County’s favor, “we’re done,” Carter said. If he rules against the county, though, the case goes on and he’ll hear closing arguments.
The Wasatch Peaks plans, already moving forward, call for development of a private residential community containing skiing, golf and other recreational amenities spread across 12,000 acres of largely undeveloped land.
At issue in the lawsuit is whether the five Morgan County residents properly filed the petition aimed at forcing a ballot question on the Oct. 30, 2019, Morgan County Council decision approving a zoning and general plan change that lets the WPR plans move forward. The five — Whitney Croft, Robert Bohman, Brandon Peterson, Shelley Paige and David Pike — are leery of so much development on the land.
Clark, then the county clerk, rejected the petition, saying the five didn’t properly certify that they’re Morgan County voters and didn’t attach the resolution at the center of the dispute to their paperwork, as required.